How are Biofuels Made?

Posted in: Applications

Author: Sentek Ltd

Date Posted: 18/11/2020

People within the industry are often asked the question ‘how are biofuels made?’ Not surprisingly it’s a question that can’t be answered in a sentence. Here we take a look at the manufacture of biofuels and try to answer that question, as well as explaining the use for pH probes in the production and testing process.

Fossil fuel was at the heart of the industrial revolution. Without fuels like coal these great steps forward could never have happened, but fossil fuels are a finite resource. Strenuous efforts have been made over the years to find more sustainable ways of producing power; biofuels represent one such alternative.

What are biofuels?

Biofuels are by no means a new concept but their use has been limited by the ready availability of cheaper and more traditional fuels. More recently oil price fluctuations and growing concerns about the environment have spurred on research and development into renewable and cleaner fuels.

The focus of biofuel production is to create fuels that can be made using plant material or other feedstocks that are ultimately sustainable. To meet the targets for sustainable growth set by the International Energy Agency the production of biofuel will need to triple by 2030. Needless to say, research and development is ongoing.

As to the question of how are biofuels made, there are several answers. In general terms it involves chemical reactions, fermentation, and high temperatures. These are used to break down the molecular structure of the plant, including starches and sugars. The end product of this process is then refined to create a viable fuel. As part of the quality control system, biofuel probes are used in the testing and manufacture of biofuels.

There are a number of different types of biofuels. Much of the petrol consumed in the USA contains ethanol, which is one of the most common biofuels. Biodiesel and renewable diesel are both alternatives to traditional diesel fuel. Animal fat, vegetable oil, and recycled cooking fat are all used in the production of biodiesel.

The advantages of biofuels

There are clearly numerous benefits to be gained from the use of biofuels, not least of which is the protection of the planet. It has been estimated that if we continue to use fossil fuels at our current rate we’ll be out of resources by 2060. Electrodes created by Sentek are helping orginisations to create a sustainable planet. Specialising in the manufacture of a range of electrochemical sensors, our products are an important element of the biofuels industry. And, although our products are scientific, they are used in many everyday processes.

Research and development into producing alternative forms of power is growing, with wind and solar farms proliferating across the globe. But we still need fuel for vehicles, and despite advances in electric cars, biofuels may currently represent the most viable option.

Sentek has been manufacturing a range of electrochemical sensors for laboratory and industrial use since 1991. Our P11 Non-Aqueous Probe is a key piece of equipment in the testing and manufacture of biofuels. For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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