Carbon Neutral Biofuels

 

What do we mean by Carbon Neutral? The CO2 produced in its combustion and fermentation will equal the CO2 used in its production.

Ethanol is sometimes touted as a Carbon Neutral bio-fuel. Why?

Well, to make the ethanol a plant photosynthesizes to produce sugar.

6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2

 

Sugar is then fermented to produced ethanol.

C6H12O6 → 2C2H5OH + 2CO2

 

When ethanol is combusted, the CO2 evolved equals the CO2 used in its production.

2C2H5OH + 6O2 → 4CO2 + 6H2O

Simple?

It does look that way but when you dig deeper…

Well, what about the energy (and hence, CO2 produced) used to cut the sugar crop, make the fertilizers, power the machinery, light and heat the fermentation plant, etc.

The picture is suddenly not so ‘green’ as it makes out.

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