Obtaining sufficient supplies of energy in an environmentally responsible way is one of the biggest concerns of the 21st century. Of all the problems associated with energy production, none is more complex than those associated with the production of biofuels - or non-fossil fuels derived from biomass - including plant matter, animal wastes, and municipal wastes. Obtaining enough biomass to meet demand requires large tracts of forest to be intensively managed, and it also requires agricultural resources to be diverted from the production of food and feed and toward the production of fuel. Biofuels entail their own special kind of environmental and economic disruption.
There are many types of biofuels, and they are all used in different ways. They are most often used for transportation purposes, usually blended with gasoline or diesel fuel, but they are also used to generate electricity and provide heat for residential and industrial use. Biofuel consumption may be as simple as throwing a log on a fire or as complex as burning a combustible gas derived from plant matter in a combined-cycle electricity-generating unit. Biofuels describes the most common types of biofuels and biofuel technologies and seeks to identify both the advantages and disadvantages associated with their use. This new, full-color book describes the ways that biofuels are used and the technical, social, policy, and environmental consequences of large-scale consumption.