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Biofuels Collective Roots. What are biofuels?  Biofuels are a source of energy similar to gasoline. Instead of coming from the ground through oil wells,

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Presentation on theme: "Biofuels Collective Roots. What are biofuels?  Biofuels are a source of energy similar to gasoline. Instead of coming from the ground through oil wells,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Biofuels Collective Roots

2 What are biofuels?  Biofuels are a source of energy similar to gasoline. Instead of coming from the ground through oil wells, however, we make biofuels directly from plants. Almost anything that grows from soil can be converted into biofuels. Because plants capture energy from the sun through photosynthesis, we can harness this energy in the biofuels to generate electricity or use as fuel for our cars. Fig. 1

3 What is wrong with our normal energy sources?  Currently, we pollute our planet with a gas known as carbon dioxide, or CO 2. CO 2 comes from things that burn gasoline or coal – like power plants and cars.  CO 2 is a greenhouse gas and causes global warming. The more of it we release into the atmosphere, the warmer the earth becomes.  A warmer earth could mean rising sea-levels and more dangerous weather like hurricanes. Fig. 2 Fig. 3

4 How are Biofuels better?  Biofuels reduce CO 2 pollution because they come from plants. When plants breathe, they breathe in CO 2 and breathe out oxygen. During a plant’s lifetime, it inhales a lot of CO 2. When we burn biofuels, like when we use them in our cars, we still release CO 2 into the air but since the plant already turned so much CO 2 into oxygen we effectively reduce the overall pollution to almost nothing. Fig. 4

5 What do we use to make Biofuels?  Biofuels today commonly come from plants like corn and sugarcane because we can grow them abundantly.  We capture the energy from these plants through a process called fermentation. This is done by letting fungi - usually yeast - turn the sugars in the plant into ethanol. The resulting ethanol can then be put directly into our cars as a clean energy source. Fig. 5

6 Disadvantages  Although corn and sugarcane are excellent attempts for reducing CO 2 pollution, they do have drawbacks.  Corn is not a very good source of ethanol. It takes about a gallon of gasoline just to produce a gallon of ethanol. Some experts argue that since we must use so much gasoline to make ethanol, we might as well continue to use gasoline.  Corn is also a food crop. By using corn for fuel, we reduce the amount of food left to feed the world. This causes food prices to rise across the globe and can lead to world hunger.  Sugarcane is much better at producing ethanol than corn, however it only grows in tropical climates that receive plenty of rain. Sugarcane grows well in Brazil, but not in the United States.

7 How can we improve Biofuels?  There are more options besides corn and sugarcane for producing biofuels. In fact, there are two that are significantly better. One is a poisonous plant called jatropha the other grows in ponds in your own back yard, it is algae. These two fuel sources don’t make ethanol, but instead make bio-diesel fuel. Bio-diesel is slightly different than ethanol because it is made from lipids – fats that contain lots of energy. When you think of bio-diesel, think of your car running on vegetable oil. Fig. 6

8 Jatropha (ja-TROW-fuh)  The jatropha plant makes seeds that are full of oil. We can extract, or squeeze out, this oil and turn it into biodiesel fuel.  The advantage of jatropha is that it grows in places where most plants cannot. It does not need fertilizers or even good soil to grow well. All jatropha needs 24 inches of rain each year and four months of temperatures above 55ºF. The benefit of this plant is that we don’t have to use precious farmland to grow it. Jatropha can be grown in some places in the Southwest like Texas and Arizona.  One nice thing about jatropha is that it can be grown profitably. Farms that grow jatropha exclusively for biofuels can earn quite a bit of money, especially when it competes with high gasoline prices. Fig. 7 Fig. 8

9 Jatropha – more info  For more information or to explore jatropha visit  For a short video on jatropha see mjY mjY mjY

10 Algae (al-gee)  Algae (al-gee) is an organism, or life form, that grows in water. It is often the “green stuff” you see growing in ponds. Algae is an excellent source of biofuel because much of its body is made of lipids, fats that store energy very well. The nice thing about algae is that it thrives on our wastewater. So not only does algae help clean the environment as a biofuel, but it also cleans up our water supply. Fig. 9

11 Algae – more info  Watch this video to see how amazing this gooey, green organism can be Fig. 10

12 Okay, I’m convinced Biofuels can help save the planet, now what?  Help spread the word! We need to act fast in order to stop global warming before it is too late. Biofuels are one way to tremendously help reduce our carbon dioxide air pollution.  You can help Collective Roots promote biofuels by supporting their bio-diesel van. Collective Roots is raising money to purchase a van so that we can inform more people - just like you – about the advantages of using biofuels!  To make a donation visit

13 Picture Credits  Fig. 1  Fig. 2  Fig. 3  Fig. 4 2b587668525eb4215190b8059bab5aa6& grunwald%2Fune%2FKLAs%2Fscience%2Firrigation-photosynthesis.gif 2b587668525eb4215190b8059bab5aa6& grunwald%2Fune%2FKLAs%2Fscience%2Firrigation-photosynthesis.gif 2b587668525eb4215190b8059bab5aa6& grunwald%2Fune%2FKLAs%2Fscience%2Firrigation-photosynthesis.gif  Fig. 5  Fig. 6 _pure_vegetable_oil_angle_view.jpg _pure_vegetable_oil_angle_view.jpg _pure_vegetable_oil_angle_view.jpg  Fig. 7  Fig. 8  Fig. 9  Fig. 10

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