What is Green Fuel?

Green fuel technologies are developing world wide to alleviate dependance on fossil fuels. What is green fuel and what does it mean to a society that relies on fossil fuels? Green fuel is a general term, referring to “environmentally friendly” alternative fuels, specifically biofuels derived from organic materials that can be replenished. Although the word says “green” not all alternative fuels are actually environmentally sound- instead depending on the natural resource and processing used, detrimental pollution can result.

For instance, green fuels often refer to the first generation biofuels derived from crop plants. Specifically from a variety of crops that either can be broken down into sugar (starches), or oil. Sugar generating plants are fermented into ethanol. Oil producers are used as biodiesel.

One reason people don’t like biodiesels from these sources is that it takes up valuable land mass for the production of fuel and not food. Also, the intensive commercial farming techniques are extremely detrimental on the environment for the long term. Air pollutants are a byproduct of the processing techniques as well as when the fuel is actually burned. Additionally, GMO crop plants are used. Other ways to generate green fuels are desirable for this reason.

In result, initiatives to create better, second generation biofuels are underway. Algae fuels, are easy to grow indoors with quick process times are looking more attractive than crop fuels like corn. In fact, algae fuels may generate more than 200 times the amount of fuel than corn can. Although promising, expect many more years of filling up your tank with gas, rather than algae based fuel.

Although the change from “clunky” biofuels to sleeker forms are developing, as a citizen it is important to recognize self-responsibility and not rely on future technologies to save us from ourselves. Reducing energy usage is the best way to help the environment and this can be accomplished through a variety of ways that do not have to inconvenience societies. In fact, gains can be made from a society focusing on local economic development and natural resource management. Taking a Permaculture course is a great way to expand your own possibilities when it comes to living well on less fossil fuels. -BEN TERRINGTON

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