Environmental issues in the liquid biofuels industry

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

Charles, MB & Sen, S 2014, 'Environmental issues in the liquid biofuels industry', in AD Padula, MS dos Santos, OIB Santos & D Borenstein (eds.), Liquid biofuels: emergence, development and prospects, Springer, London, UK, pp. 149-171.

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Peer Reviewed



Although biofuels have the potential to supplement conventional petroleum fuels in a variety of energy applications, and as transport fuels in particular, their use also poses some problems from an environmental perspective. Concerns exist relating to whether positive net energy (and therefore effective greenhouse gas mitigation) can be derived from biofuels, whether the cultivation of biofuel feedstocks leads to significant environmental degradation and whether their use could hamper the implementation of a more long-term transport energy paradigm. Yet a clear understanding of these issues, together with the more important technical aspects relating to biomass cultivation and biofuel production, has the potential to ensure that biofuels can play a successful role in weaning the planet off its current carbon dependency. In particular, the ability to assess the total life cycle of biofuels from cradle to grave emerges as a particularly important consideration in ensuring that cultivation and production processes are optimized.