Taking the fossil out of fuels

Fish, Steven Anthony (2009) Taking the fossil out of fuels. IBERS Knowledge Based Innovations, 2. pp. 11-14.

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Over the last ten years, there has been a step change in how both the public and government view the environment. Where once the dollar was king, we now see a shift in position to where commercial activities must, at the very least, display some environmental awareness and operate with a level of environmental responsibility. Man’s contribution to climate change largely originates from the generation of greenhouse gases produced as a consequence of activities such as agriculture, industrial processes, transport and the use of fossil fuels for energy generation (see http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Thewiderenvironment/Climatechange/DG_072920). One of the greatest challenges for the 21st century, therefore, is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by finding environmentally acceptable alternatives. By and large, fossil fuels such as coal are used to produce energy for the commercial and domestic sectors, i.e. heat and electricity. Oil, when refined, has additional utility in the form of transport fuels and chemicals. Whilst transport fuels touch almost all of our everyday lives as the energy source for our motorised vehicles, the products made from petrochemicals pervade society to an even greater extent. Examples include: plastics, soaps and detergents, drugs, paints, resins, fabrics and fibres, explosives, pesticides and fertilisers. A variety of renewable solutions are also available for the production of energy, including wind turbines, tidal barrages, solar cells and biomass. However, biomass sources such as Miscanthus, reed canary grass, willow and perennial ryegrass, are uniquely placed not only to provide energy, as demonstrated by the co-firing of coal with Miscanthus, but also to serve as ’feedstocks‘ for the production of renewable transport fuels and chemicals derived from their constituent sugars and lignins.

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IBERS Knowledge Based Innovations
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06 May 2016 13:20
Last Modified:
11 Sep 2023 17:53