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Five Awesome Things You Won't Believe Run on Biofuel Five Awesome Things You Won't Believe Run on Biofuel
Environment

Five Awesome Things You Won't Believe Run on Biofuel

by Nicole Rogers

October 4, 2012

 


Some people associate biofuels—those derived directly from renewable biological resources—with long hair and environmentalism, and that’s fine! In fact, you’ll see Mr. Willie Nelson featured prominently on our list. But with innovations in renewable fuels made every day, biofuel is popping up in some unexpected, exciting, and high-performance places. Here's a list of a few of the most remarkable.
1. NASCAR has run on E15 ethanol-based biofuel since 2010 when it began running practice and qualifying laps with the green fuel. No significant modifications were made to the cars in order to run on E15, and the low-carbon fuel emits 20% less greenhouse emissions than unleaded gasoline. NASCAR claims to have seen improvements in performance, with a 5 to 10 percent increase in horsepower depending on the race and the conditions.
 
 
2. The Royal Train that Queen Elizabeth II, Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales use on long journeys around the United Kingdom has run on biodiesel derived from used cooking oil since 2007. The train is capable of speeds up to 125 mph, but restricted to 100 mph when on royal duty.
 
Image (cc) flickr user class56jonzeyz
 
3. The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels
 air show that wowed crowds at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River Air Expo in Maryland last year was powered by a 50/50-blend of jet fuel and camelina-based biofuel. Camelina is a drought resistant crop that can be used as a rotation crop for wheat. Sustainable Oils, the company providing the fuel to the military, says camelina-based biojet fuel reduces CO2 emissions by 75 percent over traditional petroleum-based jet fuel. By 2016, the Navy plans to deploy the Great Green Fleet, an aircraft carrier strike group powered entirely by non-fossil fuels.
 
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The biofuels in this list are made from a wide variety of raw materials, otherwise known as “feedstocks.” Some forms of biofuel, like Green Crude and waste grease biodiesel, are considered “drop-in” biofuels. In other words, they can be used as a direct replacement for fossil fuels in a machine’s existing engine. Other forms of biofuel, like ethanol, are considered "alternative" fuels. They do not replicate the chemical properties of fossil fuels and therefore require blending with conventional fuels like gasoline in order to be used by a typical combustion engine.
 
Biofuels are domestically produced, renewable sources of energy that burn cleaner than fossil fuels. The playing field for emerging advanced biofuels is wide, and there are plenty of competing technologies and methods. It remains to be seen what the future holds for these individual forms of biofuel in the U.S., but it seems clear that biofuels in general hold much promise as a fuel source that could eventually ease our nation’s dependence on oil.
 
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Nicole Rogers is a writer and the editor of the Sustainable America blog, which focuses on the link between food and fuel in the United States.
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