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    Biomass, Biofuel, and Vegetable Oil Fuel
    Pros & Cons
    For Science Fair Projects, Labs, Lesson Plans
    For Elementary School, Middle School, High School and College Students and Teachers

    Resources and Studies


      Biomass Energy is a biological renewable energy source derived from living or recently dead plants or animals. Biomass can be used directly or converted into other energy forms like biofuel.

      A Biofuel is a fuel derived from recently dead renewable plants and animals.

      Vegetable oil fuel is fat derived from plants which viscosity is lowered in order to make it suitable for diesel engines.

      Biodiesel is a non-petroleum fuel made from vegetable oils or animal fats, which can be used, alone or blended, in unconverted diesel-engine vehicles. Biodiesel is different from the straight vegetable oil (SVO) that is used alone or blended as a fuel in some converted diesel-engine vehicles.

      Background Information

    • Pros and Cons of Vegetable Oil as Fuel [View Resource]
    • Biofuel: A Short Review [View Resource]
    • The Pros and Cons of Biofuels [View Resource]
    • Biodiesel Fuel - Pros and Cons [View Resource]
    • Pros and Cons of Using Bio-energy [View Resource]
    • Algae Biofuel Pros and Cons [View Resource]
    • Biofuels [View Resource]
    • History of Alternative Energy and Fossil Fuels [View Resource]

      K-12 Experiments, Labs, Science Fair Projects

    • Advantages of Biofuels - renewable energy science fair project [View Experiment]
    • Biodiesel fuels and the role that they may play in our global environment - renewable energy science fair project [View Experiment]
    • A project designed to promote and research alternative energy and fuels in Bloom High School [View Experiment]
    • Introduction to Biofuels [View Experiment]
    • 5th Grade Introduction to Energy Resources: Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy Sources [View Experiment]
    • 4th Grade Introduction to Energy Resources: Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy Sources [View Experiment]

      College Experiments, Labs, Studies and Articles

    • Biofuels: A Survey on Pros and Cons [View Experiment]
    • Biofuel production technologies: status, prospects and implications for trade and development [View Experiment]
    • Political, economic and environmental impacts of biofuels: A review [View Experiment]
    • The Promise of Algae Biofuels [View Experiment]
    • Synthesis of Transportation Fuels from Biomass: Chemistry, Catalysts, and Engineering [View Experiment]
    Biomass Energy Pros & Cons


    • Biomass production can be used to burn organic waste products resulting from agriculture. This type of recycling encourages the philosophy that nothing on this Earth should be wasted. The result is less demand on the Earth's resources, and a higher carrying capacity for Earth because non-renewable fossil fuels are not consumed.
    • Biomass is abundant on Earth and is generally renewable. In theory, we will never run out of organic waste products as fuel, because we are continuously producing them. In addition, biomass is found throughout the world, a fact that should alleviate energy pressures in third world nations.
    • When methods of biomass production other than direct combustion of plant mass, such as fermentation and pyrolysis, are used, there is little effect on the environment. Alcohols and other fuels produced by these alternative methods are clean burning and are feasible replacements to fossil fuels.
    • Since CO2 is first taken out of the atmosphere to make the vegetable oil and then put back after it is burned in the engine, there is no net increase in CO2. So vegetable oil does not contribute to the problem of greenhouse gas.
    • Vegetable oil has a higher flash point and is safer than most fossil fuels.
    • Transitioning to vegetable oil could be relatively easy as biodiesel works where diesel works, and straight vegetable oil takes relatively minor modifications.
    • The World already produces more than 100 billion gallons a year for food industry, so we have experience making it.
    • Algaculture has the potential to produce far more vegetable oil per acre than current plants.
    • Infrastructure for biodiesel around the World is significant and growing.


    • Direct combustion without emissions filtering generally leads to air pollution similar to that from fossil fuels.
    • Producing liquid fuels from biomass is generally less cost effective than from petroleum, since the production of biomass and its subsequent conversion to alcohols is particularly expensive.
    • Some researchers claim that, when biomass crops are the product of intensive farming, ethanol fuel production results in a net loss of energy after one accounts for the fuel costs of fertilizer production, farm equipment, and the distillation process.
    • Costs to modify existing engines may outweigh fuel cost savings
    • Direct competition with land use for food production.
      • Current production methods would require enormous amounts of land to replace all gasoline and diesel. With current technology, it is unfeasible for biofuels to replace the demand for petroleum.
      • Growth in vegetable oil production is already resulting in deforestation.
      • Converting forest land to vegetable oil production can result in a net increase in CO2.
      • Demand for vegetable oil used as a fuel may drive up prices of vegetable oils in the food industry

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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