Presentation on the problems and potential of biofuels
KARINA: Hi, Mike. How’s it going?
MIKE: Actually, I was up last night with an assignment, so Yeah, I’m tired, but I guess we’d better sort this presentation out.
KARINA: Well, we’ve done enough background reading, but I think we need to organize exactly what we’re going to say about biofuels during the presentation. The end the order.
MIKE: We could Q21 start by asking our audience what car engines were first designed to run on fossil fuels or biofuels.
KARINA: Nice idea.
MIKE: Yes. When most people think about cars and fuel, they think about all the carbon dioxide that’s produced. But they don’t realize that they wasn’t always the case.
KARINA: You’re probably right. The earliest car engines ran on fuel made from corn and peanut oil, didn’t they?
MIKE: Yes. The manufacturers used the corn and peanut oil and turned them into a kind of very pure alcohol.
KARINA: You mean ethanol?
MIKE: Yes. In fact, most biofuels are still based on ethanol. Actually, I’ve got some notes here about the process of turning plant matter into ethanol the chemical reactions and the fermentation stages and
KARINA: It interesting the other students would appreciate it. But different biofuels use different processes, and Q22 if we give a general description, there’s a risk we’ll get it wrong, and then the tutor might mark us down. I’d rather we focus on the environmental issues.
MIKE: Fair enough. So, um, the main plants that are used for biofuel production now are sugar cane corn
KARINA: And Canola, of all of them Canola is probably the least harmful because machines that use it don’t produce as much Carbon monoxide.
MIKE: Sugarcane seems to be controversial. It doesn’t require as much fertilizer as Q23 corn does to grow. But when they burn the sugar cane fields that releases loads of greenhouse gases,
KARINA: Yes, But some critics have suggested that the production of corn ethanol uses up more fossil fuel energy than the biofuel energy it eventually produces. For that reason, I’d say it was more harmful to the environment.
MIKE: I see what you mean. You’re probably right. It’s interesting how everyone saw the biofuel industry is the answer to our energy problems. But in some ways, biofuels have created new problems
KARINA: Well in the U. S. A. I wouldn’t say that farmers were having problems. The biofuel industry for them has turned out to be really profitable.
MIKE: I think, though, that even in the USA, ethanol is still only used as an additive to gasoline or petrol. Q24 The problem is that it still has to be transported by trucks or rail because they haven’t built any pipelines to move it. Once they do, it’ll be cheaper and the industry might move forward.
KARINA: That’ll have to happen one day, at least. The government are in favor of biofuel development,
MIKE: Yes, but Brazil’s probably in the lead. As far as Biofuels a concerned. They’ve got to the point where they don’t need to import any oil now,
KARINA: which is great. And the industry in Brazil employs a huge number of people. But is it sustainable? I mean, as Q25 the population grows and their arm or vehicles on the roads and there’s more machinery, surely they can’t depend so much on sugar cane. At some point, that has to be a limit on how much land can be used for sugar cane production. Certainly, if you want to preserve natural habitats and native wildlife,
MIKE: I think that whatever problems Brazil’s facing now, the same will be true for any country. You have to weigh up the pros and cons.
KARINA: Well, we probably won’t see an increase in biofuel use. I mean, they won’t replace fossil fuels until we can find ways to produce them cheaply and quickly and with less cost to the environment,
MIKE: Making sure they require minimal energy to produce.
KARINA: Exactly. And in a way, that means Q26 they have to cost less than fossil fuels. Certainly when you’re filling up your car,
MIKE: Yes, and whatever other kind of engines use fossil fuels at the moment.
KARINA: All right, so in the last section of the presentation, what problems are we focusing on?
MIKE: Well, we’ve already had a look at different types of pollution in the first section, so we can leave that out. But the biggest issue related to biofuels is that land is now being used to grow biofuel crops, and that’s contributing to Q27 global hunger.
KARINA: Indeed, it doesn’t seem right. We’re using corn to run cars when people can’t afford to buy it to eat. Yes, let’s talk about that. The other thing is that in some countries, the way that biofuel crops have grown and harvested still produces a great deal of Q28 pollution really damaging to the atmosphere.
MIKE: Okay, that’s definitely an issue we should look at.
KARINA: Let’s not finish on a negative note, though. Why don’t we talk about the potential new sources of by our fuel? So rather than corn and sugar cane, what other plants could be used?
MIKE: Good? Some companies are exploring the possibility of using Q29 wood and seem have that can be used to make ethanol.
KARINA: Yes, and algae is another possibility. You can grow it in any water and it absorbs pollutants too.
MIKE: I’ve read that and Q30 grasses they are another plant that researches and investigating as a biofuel.
KARINA: And these kinds of plants are used to..