According to The Environmental Protection Agency, the use of vehicles makes up 75% of CO2 emissions in America. Unfortunately, the need to drive is a necessary evil for most people in the country. Our lives revolve around transportation; we need to get where we need to go in order to provide for ourselves and our families. For that reason, rather than cutting out parts of our lives that we can’t give up, we instead need to find ways to achieve the same goal without increasing our carbon footprint. One of the ways scientists are achieving this is through the creation of biofuels. Unlike their fossil fuel counterparts, these fuels reduce the amount of CO2 our vehicles and machines emit, giving us hope for a cleaner, more sustainable future.

Bioethanol is a type of fuel created through the fermentation of sugar from various plants such as corn, wheat, sugarcane, and other plants containing sugar. In the modern-day, there are specific farms created for the sole purpose of the creation of this biofuel and energy resources. Bioethanol is renewable, it’s biodegradable, it’s low in toxicity: in other words, it’s a great sustainable source of fuel. Although this might seem like a great way to go green in terms of transportation, unfortunately, we haven’t found a way to solely rely on bioethanol as a source of fuel. The best we can do right now is blend it with preexisting fuel sources to lessen our carbon footprint. The most common form of ethanol blends is E10—which is 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline—a blend that can be used by any car no matter the make or model. To utilize higher concentrations of ethanol, certain modifications would need to be made to the car’s engine.

Biodiesel is a more sustainable way to power diesel-fueled equipment and vehicles. Much like bioethanol, it’s a biodegradable and relatively non-toxic fuel source. However, instead of being created by sugar, it’s biodiesel is produced from a variety of natural oils such as soybean oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, etc. These oils give biodiesel it’s yellowish color, and it has a viscosity very similar to normal diesel fuel. The best part: up to 20% biodiesel blends can be used by nearly every diesel-powered machine, but some modified engines are capable of using pure biodiesel fuel. Considering that these vehicles and equipment are some of the most environmentally costly machines we have, this is a great step to greatly lessening the effect they have on the planet. 

With all these benefits that biofuels can have in our fight against climate change many people might find themselves asking, “what’s stopping us?” Well, one limitation is most likely the cost. As of today, the cost of creating and distributing bioethanol is about $0.50 more expensive than the fossil fuel alternative per liter. Also, in order to allow more vehicles to use higher concentrations of biofuels in their blends, there would have to be a nationwide effort to build cars with modified engines, meaning a complete restock in newly modified automobiles. As of now, especially with the economy being the way that it is, it might not be financially possible for us to achieve a total overall in alternative fuel. Additionally, building biofuel plants is an extremely expensive endeavor, with a single plant having a price tag of up to $375 million dollars. 

In order to ensure our continued safety and comfort as a human race, we need to be willing to make certain changes to our daily routine. Considering the effect that transportation has on our rate of emissions, it’s important for us to do what we can to make this vital aspect of our lives more sustainable. If we’re not able to make sacrifices in terms of cost and political policies, then how can we expect things to get any better? The more we focus our sights on the creation and advancement of biofuels, the closer we get to a cleaner, safer future.