What Is Green Fuel and How Can It Be Incorporated in Automobiles?

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What is green fuel?

Automobiles are one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions in the world. As a result, auto manufacturers are finding ways to reduce emissions and increase the use of alternative fuels. Among the alternatives available are biofuels, which are made from plants and animals. Other options include wastes and non-food resources like electricity.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is a clean, green fuel that is made from plant-based oils and fats, such as soybean oil, corn oil and animal fat. It is a nontoxic, sustainable alternative to petroleum diesel and can be used in most vehicles that run on a conventional diesel engine.

The production of biodiesel starts with a process called transesterification. This process combines oils and fats with alcohol, like methanol, in the presence of a catalyst. It then transforms the resulting FAME (fatty acid methyl esters) into biodiesel that is then distilled to separate it from its glycerin coproduct.

It is also important to understand that while biodiesel can be produced from any type of vegetable oil or fat, the best source for quality biodiesel is oils derived from crops such as rapeseed or palm oil. These crops produce oil that is high in oleic acid, which is considered to be the best choice for engine performance.

However, if you are interested in using biodiesel for your vehicle, it is important to understand that while this fuel is considered more environmentally friendly than traditional diesel fuel, it does have some issues. One of these is its ability to act as a solvent, which can loosen deposits in the fuel tank and pipes that cause clogs in fuel filters, injectors and other parts of the engine.

In addition, biodiesel must be stored in the proper temperature range at all times. If it gets too warm, it could grow mold, and if it gets too cold, it can thicken and be difficult to disperse in the vehicle’s fuel tank.

Despite these concerns, many diesel vehicles can be converted to use biodiesel, and the transition is relatively easy. In fact, most newer cars are equipped with biodiesel blends of B5 (5% biodiesel) and B11 (11% biodiesel).

While biodiesel offers a cleaner burn, it isn’t perfect from an engine performance standpoint. It can offer higher lubricity than traditional diesel, which can reduce engine wear and improve efficiency, but it also can lead to more deposit buildup in the fuel tank and fuel lines, causing clogs and other problems. Other potential issues include corrosion, material degradation, and injector coking.

Biogas

Biogas is a natural form of waste-to-energy that uses the anaerobic process of decomposition (or fermentation) to break down organic matter. It can be produced from a wide variety of organic waste, such as animal manure, food scraps, garden and municipal waste, and sewage.

In addition to the organic waste that is broken down, a small amount of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide is released in the process. The gas can then be used as a renewable fuel or for other purposes.

While it isn’t a completely clean source of energy, biogas is still a good option for many rural communities, especially those living in areas that have no electricity or where kerosene, paraffin, or firewood are unavailable. It also produces much less emissions than these other sources, reducing the health risks for families.

A number of countries around the world are embracing this technology as a means to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and improve their environmental quality. The Dutch development agency SNV has been implementing national programmes in Asia, including Nepal, Vietnam, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR and India, where it works with local companies to market, install and service biogas plants.

It is a simple and cost-effective technology that can be used on small to large scales, depending on the type of organic waste being converted into biogas. The first step in biogas conversion is to remove contaminants and moisture from the waste.

The next step involves putting the organic waste into a digester. This is where the microorganisms feed on the waste and start breaking it down, producing methane in the process.

In addition to capturing the methane, the biodigester can also be fitted with a generator that converts the biogas into electricity. This is an excellent way to make the most of waste materials and generate sustainable, recurring income for biogas plant operators.

In addition to electricity and heat, biogas can be upgraded to be used as vehicle fuel. This requires further refining, but it can be a profitable business for plant owners. It can be used to replace petroleum-based diesel or gasoline.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a light, energy-dense fuel that produces no emissions at the point of use. It is also storable, making it suitable for long-distance transport or for storing renewable electricity to help power grids cope with low wind and solar output.

Today, hydrogen is primarily produced by splitting water molecules in a process known as electrolysis. This is a clean and simple process that can be powered by renewable electricity, using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. This is called green hydrogen, and is a great example of how we can make renewable energy work.

As well as being a low-emissions fuel, hydrogen also offers other advantages over petrol or diesel. It is a versatile fuel and can be used to power industrial facilities and heavy vehicles.

Another benefit of hydrogen is that it can be stored for a long time in a tank, unlike batteries which can only store a small amount of energy at a time. It can also be used to refuel a car without having to run it off battery electricity, which could save the driver money on refuelling costs.

There are many opportunities for hydrogen to contribute to the global energy transition, especially where other clean energy options are not yet viable. In particular, it can play a vital role in decarbonising a wide range of sectors that are proving difficult to shift away from fossil fuels, including long-distance transport, chemicals and iron and steel production.

To achieve this, governments and companies need to support R&D to bring down costs of hydrogen fuel cells and electrolysers (the technology that produces hydrogen from water). They should also eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers and harmonise standards across sectors and countries.

Governments should also make clear that clean hydrogen can help meet a range of global challenges such as air pollution and energy security. They can guide the research agenda, take risks and attract private capital for innovation to help drive a strong hydrogen industry.

Hydrogen can also help decarbonise a range of industries where electric systems are not yet viable, including power generation, heating and cooling, and iron and steel. It is a versatile and low-emission fuel with a great potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in these sectors and improve energy resilience in the face of changing climate conditions.

Algae

Algae are a large and diverse group of organisms that are photosynthetic. This means that they have the ability to produce chlorophyll, which is the primary pigment in their cells. However, these organisms do not have true roots or stems like plants and do not have vascular tissues that circulate water and nutrients throughout their body.

Most algae are microscopic, but some can be quite large, such as some marine seaweeds. They are a significant part of the natural world, and can be found in most areas on Earth, from freshwater lakes to oceans.

Several different species of algae can be used as biofuel. The oil they produce can be extracted and refined into fuel for cars, planes and trains.

In order to produce this oil, algae must be cultivated in the right conditions. This process involves a series of steps that must be completed to ensure that the algal cell is able to convert sunlight into energy.

The process of culturing algae can take place in closed or open ponds, which allow researchers to control environmental conditions such as light intensity and nutrient concentration. There are also many different strains of algae that can be used for this process.

Some of the algae are able to convert carbon dioxide into hydrogen and oxygen. This process is called photosynthesis and it is one of the reasons why algae can be used as a green fuel.

Other species of algae are able to produce other molecules that can be useful for a variety of purposes. These include polysaccharides, proteins, lipids and more.

As a whole, algae have a long history of use in numerous industrial applications. These include foodstuffs, animal feed, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and more.

These days, algae are becoming an increasingly popular choice for green fuels. Some major players in the vehicle and fuel market, including Mazda, Honda and Exxon have started to invest money in this area of research.

Although there are still a lot of things that need to be worked out before this technology can be introduced on the market, it is a good sign that big names in the auto industry are paying attention to this option. This could mean that it is only a matter of time before we start to see algae-filled cars on our roads.

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Arushi Sana is the Co-Founder of Santerra Living, a bio-pellet factory that makes a renewable form of eco-coal and Co-Founder of NYK Daily, a global news platform. She was awarded the Times Power Women of the Year 2022, Times Digital Entrepreneur of the Year 2023, Silicon India's Top 10 Women Owned Startups of Hyderabad 2023 and IHW Council Climate Health Influencer 2024. Arushi is also a speaker for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship at various forms like the World Bank, UN International Solar Alliance and Universities, and was also invited to the UN COP28 UAE Climate Conference. She is a Sustainability Consultant for organisations looking to reduce their carbon footprint and also works with brands on social media to help them carve a presence in that niche. She holds a Degree in Computer Science Engineering from VIT University and a Diploma in Marketing Analytics from IIM Nagpur. She has previously worked in Ernst & Young and Deloitte as a Forensic Data Analyst. Arushi is a writer, political researcher, a social worker, a farmer and a singer with an interest in languages. Travel and nature are the biggest spiritual getaways for her, and she aims to develop a global community of knowledge and journalism par excellence through this News Platform.

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