PLANTS AS FUEL THROUGH HISTORY AND INTO THE FUTURE

PLANTS AS FUEL: THROUGH HISTORY AND INTO THE FUTURE 7

PLANTSAS FUEL: THROUGH HISTORY AND INTO THE FUTURE

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July1, 2014.

PLANTSAS FUEL

Historyis rich with data on how humans have searched for ways of utilizingand generating energy. There has been great technological developmentand industrialization which now threatens the sustainability ofenergy resources available. The present day concern for humans is howto create new sources of energy while enhancing sustainability of thetraditional sources of energy. Fuel is the most used form of energyin many parts of the world. However, there has been a great concernand research on new sources of fuel based on the fact that thecurrent fossil fuel has caused and continues to cause muchenvironmental degradation. In addition, the resources used forgenerating fuel are running out and thus the need for new sources ofenergy. In this respect, people are looking for more sustainable fuelsources that do not have an environmental problem (Willkrans,2005).

Fossilfuel is the commonly used source of energy in the modern society, butit is facing depletion threats due to increased human reliance on itsenergy. Fossil fuel comes from remains of dead living organismsmillions of years ago. Throughout history, man has derived fuel fromplants in various forms the early man used wood fuel derivatives forcooking and to run steam engines. Later in the 19thcentury, gas fuel was retrieved from wood for lighting and generatingelectricity. In the 20thcentury, fossil fuel was largely used in many industries. However,the threat of depletion and environmental pollution has led modernman to shift the trend to renewable and sustainable plant fuels suchas bio-fuel. Although, other sources of fuel remain relevant, fromthe historical assessment it cannot be disputed that plants have beenthe main source of fuel and hold a promising future in renewableenergy(Willkrans, 2005).

BielloDavid,2008. ‘Using Plants Instead of Petroleum to Make Jet Fuel,’ScientificAmerican, a Division of Nature America Inc,Retrieved on July 1 2014, from:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/using-plants-instead-of-petroleum-to-make-jet-fuel/

Thearticle explains the future of plants in providing biofuel to runJets. It explains how chemical engineers have been able to turn plantoil into Jet fuel. The fuel derived from the plants has same hydrogencomponents like the normal petroleum fuel. The author explains howvarious plants could be processed to make such fuel and itsefficiency. In particular, the author emphasizes that, plants fuelcould usher in an era of a clean environment, and that bio-fuel isless expensive than the fossil fuel. The article is relevant inunderstanding plant fuel usage in future and in particular thepositive contributions it will have on the general environment.Biofuel is a new area of exploration in the modern society where overusage of fossil fuel has posed great environmental problems.

Sexton,S., Zilberman, D., Rajagopal, D., &amp Hochman, G. 2009. ‘The roleof biotechnology in a sustainable bio-fuel future.’ AgBioForum,12(1),130-140. Available on the World Wide Web: http://www.agbioforum.org.

Thearticle discusses on the increased need for bio-fuel and theadvantage it is presumed to bring due to reduced prices of othergasoline fuels. The article assesses the impact that increasedbio-fuel production would have on food production. The authorobserves that, although plant fuel promises a viable renewable energyin the future, its sustainability would lead to trade off betweenfood production and fuel production. However, the author isoptimistic that, increased need for bio-fuel and food would improveagricultural productivity. Fuel from plants reduces greenhouse gases,but the production of this bio-fuel leads to a reduction in thebiodiversity that in turn enhances greener house effects. Thisarticle is relevant in understanding the impacts of plants fuel inthe future. According to the author, plant fuel is a great idea butits sustainability requires great investments and regulation to avoidexacerbating the problem of greenhouse whose solutions are in thegreen fuel.

BrombergL. &amp W.K. Cheng, 2010 ‘Methanol an alternativetransportation fuel in the US: options for sustainable energy-securetransportation,’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology:Cambridge MA

Thearticle describes the production of methanol fuel from plant refuse.In particular, the article explains the economic benefits of ethanolas a renewable fuel for locomotives. The author states that themethanol produced from plants is safe and biodegradable, unlike thepetroleum fuels. Although the technology of producing the biochemicalethanol from plants have not yet been fully developed, the authorstates that, it is a sustainable energy since its production does notaffect food production methanol can be made from plant refuse, suchas sugarcane byproducts. The article is relevant to the topic ‘plantsas fuel for future’ in that, it explains how plants refuse, orbiomass could be turned into renewable energy without adverselyaffecting the environment and food production.

MetzgerJO &amp Huettermann A. 2008, ‘Sustainableglobal energy supply based on lignocellulosic biomass fromafforestation of degraded areas.’Naturwissenschaften,DOI: 10.1007/s00114-008-0479-4

Accordingto the author, Prof. Jürgen O. Metzger, it is possible to haveglobal supply of energy from biomass generate electricity and producefuel. The author asserts that, since the global fossil energy facesdepletion threat, with the increasing demand for energy plant fuelseems the likely bet despite the debates on the efficacy of biomassfuel production and food production. The author in this articlecritically asserts that, it is possible to grow biomass on areaspreviously degraded by man-made activities. In general, the articlefocuses on how plants could be grown to aid in energy productionwithout limiting land for food production. The article is relevant inthe topic of plants and fuels for future. It elucidates on mechanismsthat could be adopted to implement renewable energy productionwithout altering food production. As such, the article fits in thescope of this topic by explaining that plants present a viable basisof fuel production.

JamesDumesic, 2005, ‘Green Diesel: New Process Makes LiquidTransportation Fuel from Plants,’ Jim Beal, (608) 263-0611[email protected].Assessed from

http://www.news.wisc.edu/releases/11260.html

Inthe article, the author reports that, it is easier and cheaper tomake green diesel from corn and other bio-mass of carbohydrates. Thearticles explain that these carbohydrates could be used to makesulfur-free liquid that could act as an additive to diesel.Interestingly, the researchers observe with optimism that, theprocess is very efficient and that some carbohydrates such as cornhave a higher potential of energy than other biomass. Unlike in theproduction of methanol, the author opines that in their UW-Madisonprocess more energy is conserved and hence more fuel. In a broadersense, this article gives a vivid description of how plants productscould be converted to fuel that could be used for operatingmachinery. As such, the article is effective in understanding plantsand fuel. The article gives an insight on the importance of plants inthe production of fuel.

References

BielloDavid,2008, ‘Using Plants Instead of Petroleum to Make Jet Fuel,’Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc, Retrieved onJuly 1 2014, from:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/using-plants-instead-of-petroleum-to-make-jet-fuel/

BrombergL. &amp W.K. Cheng, 2010 ‘Methanol as an alternativetransportation fuel in the US: Options for sustainable energy-securetransportation,’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology: CambridgeMA

JamesDumesic, 2005, ‘Green Diesel: New Process Makes LiquidTransportation Fuel from Plants,’ Jim Beal, (608) 263-0611[email protected].Assessed from

http://www.news.wisc.edu/releases/11260.html

MetzgerJO &amp Huettermann A. 2008, ‘Sustainableglobal energy supply based on lignocellulosic biomass fromafforestation of degraded areas.’Naturwissenschaften,DOI: 10.1007/s00114-008-0479-4

Sexton,S., Zilberman, D., Rajagopal, D., &amp Hochman, G. 2009. ‘The roleof biotechnology in a sustainable bio-fuel future.’ AgBioForum,12(1),130-140. Available on the World Wide Web: http://www.agbioforum.org.

Willkrans,R. 2005. ‘Future Fuels for CommercialVehicles,’ presentedat the IV International Workshop onOil and Gas Depletion, LisbonPortugal.