Corn Ethanol and Soybeans Biodiesel: Biomass fuels of today
Biodiesel is a renewable energy source that is an alternative to using fossil fuels. This fuel burns much cleaner and can be used alone or in combination with traditional diesel fuel of varying strength. Biodiesel offers many benefits. It burns cleaner than gasoline, releasing less emissions, it is renewable, and can be produced domestically, therefore reducing dependence on foreign resources.
Biomass as an alternative energy source has been a very hot topic. What is Biomass fuel? Are soybeans biodiesel and corn ethanol good choices for alternative energy? Will we be seeing biomass fuel at our gas stations?
Corn and soybeans play an important role in the production of biofuels in America and many other countries around the world. In the United States, corn is the main crop used to produce a biofuel called ethanol and soybeans are used to create biodiesel, another biofuel. Using biofuels is important to help combat global warming by reducing harmful carbon emissions into the air and loosen dependence on fossil fuels and foreign countries.
Biofuels are created using biomass energy. Biomass materials come from organic plant and animal wastes. Corn and soybeans are the main crops used for biofuels in the United States, but other countries use different plant sources such as willow, switchgrass, alfalfa, and many others.
Ethanol is made from corn. Some farmers in the United States grow corn specifically for ethanol processing plants. The process of turning corn into ethanol is similar to making whiskey or other types of alcohol. The first step involves smashing and crushing the corn while adding water. This turns the corn into slurry or mash. This mixture is then heated and cooked, and during this time, enzymes are added that convert the starch in the corn to sugar. Next, yeast is added, and the result is the fermentation of the sugars in the corn mash. The fermentation process is what creates the alcohol that is ethanol.
Biodiesel is another biofuel and in the United States this fuel is generally made from soybeans. Biodiesel is made during a process known as transesterification. In this process, the vegetable oil or fat, in this case soybean oil, is separated from the glycerin component. When the process is complete, there are two products produced: biodiesel and glycerin.
Biofuels make up an important step to a cleaner world that includes more efficient fuels. With global warming a big issue and pollution problems all over the world, using alternative energy sources that are renewable is an important consideration. Biofuels like ethanol made from corn and biodiesel made from soybeans are critical to end dependence on fossil fuels and protect the earth.
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