One should not be confused between biofuel and biodiesel. The term biofuel is referred to as liquid or gas fuel that is produced from biomass. On other hand bio diesel is the type of biofuel that can be used in diesel engines. Biofuel have many priorities, including sustainability, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, regional development, social structure, agriculture and security of supply. A variety of biofuel can be produced from biomass resources including fuels such as ethanol, methanol, biodiesel and gaseous fuel such as hydrogen and methane. Biofuel or biodiseals are fuels that are in essence biodegradable and non toxic. They are manufactured from vegetables oils, waste cooking oils, animals fats.
Besides being the renewable source of energy biofuel is considered as carbon neutral. The amount of carbon dioxide released during combustion of biofuel is supposed to be balanced by the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the plants themselves during its growth period. Corn, sugarcane, soybean, oil palm and coconut are commonly used for biofuel production. Due to prevailing food security issues and environmental risks the use of these crops as biofuel is highly controversial. People say switching the cultivation of food crops to bio-fuel displaces food crops resulting in significant increase in food price. These biofuel crops compete with valuable and fertile land used for growing crops. The pressure on land for food and biofuel crops speed up deforestation and disturbance to the natural habitat which leads to higher emission of greenhouse gas. Hence, the assumed benefit of carbon balance by the use of these crops cannot be attained. These consequences developed a global interest in developing biofuel from non-food biomass.
Biofuel can be produced in two ways. First, by growing high in sugar or starch rich crops and ferment it to produce ethanol. Second, by growing plants such as oil palm, soybean, algae, or Jatropha those containing high amounts of vegetable oil and converting it to biodiesel.
In the global scenario where the world is going through energy and climate crisis, use of biofuel as alternative source of energy is extremely significant. The demand of oil, key fossil fuel, is increasing continuously while its extraction and supply is declining. It is estimated that these crude oil reserves will be depleted within 50 years at the present level of consumption (80 million barrels/day). On the other hand, the increased greenhouse gas emission due to the intense use of fossil fuel is creating a serious alarm. Burning fossil fuel alone is responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is projected that the greenhouse gas emission from fossil fuel will increase by 50% by the end of 2030. (All these conditions have enhanced the global interest in the use of bio-fuel for energy security and environmental benefit. (Source: Wikipedia)
There are many countries that have been practicing the use of biofuel. Brazil leads in the production and consumption of sugarcane-based ethanol claimed to be seven times more efficient than corn ethanol that is being used in the US. Europe heads the production of biodiesel coming commonly from sunflower and rapeseeds. In the US, it is the soybean and residue oil from cooking industry that supply feedstock for biodiesel. In Brazil, biodiesel is sourced from castor and soybean. East Asian countries rely on palm oil. Nepal has seen some efforts to promoting Jatropha based biofuel since the 1990s. By this time, many of Jatropha plantations have reached harvesting stage that are in the 5th to 10th year of plantation particularly in Khairenitar, Hetauda, and in some areas of Siraha, Sunsari and Rupandehi districts. Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) found oil content in the range from 22.7 percent to 36 percent in the Jatropha seeds collected from Siraha and Rolpa districts respectively.
The test result indicated that level of oil content in the seeds corresponds to altitudes. Low oil percentage was found in the lower altitude and high percentage in the higher altitude. (NAST)
Nepal is developing country which is facing fuel crises frequently. In such situation biofuel can be alternative fuel source for fossil fuel. However having advantages many questions raised for its serious implementation. The major questions are how can we make biofuel viable in the context of Nepal? What can state provide for the development and betterment of bio fuel ? In what way can we make it competitive with the diesel price? How much wills that cost the nation and whether it is justifiable? Beside government private sectors and stakeholders responsibility to think about the plan and program. They should come up with the clear vision they can pressure government for the good policy. If all of us think about it seriously the day will come that we Nepali must not spent most of our time in a long queue to get fuel.