How Do Biofuels Work?

Biofuels are plant-based fuels made from organic matter and can be used in conjunction with traditional fuels (such as fossil fuels) to create more sustainable energy sources. Current biofuels fall into three main categories: ethanol, biodiesel and other biomass.

  • Ethanol is a biofuel derived from alcohol found in corn and cane sugar. It is most often mixed with gasoline and is used to power automobiles.
  • Biodiesel is made from vegetable oil and other natural oils. It can be used interchangeably with regular diesel (it does not need to be mixed) and allows automobiles and other diesel-powered machines to run more cleanly and release less toxic waste.
  • Other biomass includes all other forms of alternative, plant-based energy used to provide electricity or transportation. This includes burning wood chips for energy, collecting methane from manure piles and other innovations that transfer energy from natural materials into electricity or fuel.