Bio fuels: An Ecological and Economic Assessment Bio fuels (ethanol and biodiesel) are gaining importance worldwide

as substitutes for petroleum based fuels despite a controversy over food shortages and a hike in their prices. Ethanol essentially being renewable leads the way to environmental conservation by reducing green house gas emissions and improving air quality. Today 3% of the total fossil-based gasoline is replaced by ethanol and leading sugarcane producing countries are investing in their production for reducing their petroleum import bill. The industry has the potential to serve as a source of substantial employment as well as improved social well being .Cultivation of sugarcane and oilseed crops help improving the soil structure and fertility. But, bio fuels are also considered for increasing the overal l ecological footprint of agriculture and ecosystem degradation. Similarly, utilization of agricultural land for fuel instead of food for the poor makes them more controversial. INTRODUCTION Ethanol, currently produced in India by the fermentation of sugarcane molasses, is an excellent bio fuel and can be blended with petrol. Likewise, biodiesel, which can be manufactured by the transesterification of vegetable oil, can be blended with diesel to reduce the consumption of diesel from petroleum. Ethanol and biodiesel are gaining acceptance worldwide as good substitutes for oil in the transportation sector. Brazil uses pure ethanol in about20% of their vehicles and 22 to 26% ethanol -petrol blending the rest of their vehicles. The United States and Australia use a 10% ethanol blend. With a normal production rate of 1,900 million litters a year, India is the world s fourth largest producer of ethanol after Brazil, the United States and China. Beginning 1 January 2003, the Government of India mandated the use of a 5% ethanol blend in petrol sold in nine sugarcane-producing states. The Government will expand the 5% ethanol mandate tithe rest of country in a phased manner. Biodiesel production is rapidly growing in Europe and the United States. Current estimates shows production of 2.2Mt/year in Europe, with Germany (1.1 Mt/year), France (0.5Mt/year) and Italy (0.4 Mt/year) being the leading producers. The European Union mandated that its members derive at least 2% of their fuel consumption from bio fuels by 2005 and 5 .75% by 2010. Biodiesel production is about 245,000 t/year in the United States. The Government of India has developed an ambitious National Biodiesel Mission to meet 20% of the country s diesel requirements by 2011 to 2012. Since the demand for edible vegetable oil exceeds supply, the Government decided to use non -edible oil from Atrophy Curcasoilseeds as biodiesel feedstock. Extensive research has shown that J. cruces offers the following advantages: it requires low water and fertilizer for cultivation, n ot browsed by cattle or sheep, pest resistant, easy propagation, high seed yield and ability to produce high protein manure. The National Biodiesel Mission will be implemented in two stages: 1) a demonstration project carried out between 2003 to 2007, whic h will cultivate400,000 hectares of land and yield about 3.75 tons oilseed per hectare annually. The expected annual biodiesel production from the project is 1.2 t/ha/year for atonal of 480,000 tons per annum. The Government will build a transesterification plant with a biodiesel production capacity of 80,000 t/year apart of the demonstration project; and 2) commercialization period


The first phase of the National Biodiesel Mission demonstration project will generate employment of 127. The emission of nitrogen oxides (Knox) from bio fuels is slightly greater when compared to petroleum. which work well with bio fuels due to the absence of sulphur. Bio fuels contribut e significantly to climate change mitigation by reducing CO2 emissions. but it must be observed that these aldehyde emissions are predominantly acetaldehydes. On a sustained basis. Another half a million people are employed as skilled or semi-skilled labourers in sugarcane cultivation. the precipitate energy consumption is still very low. CO emission from automobiles decreased from 50g/km in 1980 to 5. Biodiesel has natural lubri city. accounting for 3. shows that ethanol has the lowest CO2emission among the major transportation fuels. which is the backbone of ethanol production. but this problem can be ameliorated by using de -Knox catalysts. the sugar industry.5% of the world commercial energy demand in 2001. Energy security and decreased dependence on oil imports India ranks sixth in the world in terms of energy demand. Since ethanol and biodiesel contain oxygen. The hydro -desulphurisation of diesel causes a loss in lubricate. Biodiesel projects can qualify as CDM projects and thus bring in additional income through the sale of certified emission reductions.6million person days in plantation by 2007. Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions The net CO2emission of burning a bio fuel like ethanol is zero since the CO2emitted on combustion is equal to that absorbed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis during the growth of the plant (sugarcane) used to manufacture ethanol.8 million person days indeed collection and 3. BENEFITS FROM THE USE OF BIOFUELS IN INDIA Reduced emission of harmful pollutants Ethanol and biodiesel are both oxygenated compounds containing no sulphur.680 person years for running the seed collection and oil -extraction centres.5% of the rural population. These fuels do not produce sulphur oxides. from well to wheels. Sulphuric removed from petrol and diesel by a process called hydro-desulphurisation. comprising7. India s domestic production of crude oil currently satisfies only about 2 . One of the disadvantages in using pure ethanol is thataldehyde emissions are higher than those of gasoline. which lead to acid rain formation. is the biggest agro industry in the country.from 2007 to 2012 will continueJatropha cultivation and install more transesterification plants which will position India to m eet 20% of its dieselneeds through biodiesel. the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) and sunburnt hydrocarbons in the exhaust is reduced. Life cycle analysis. and thus no lubricate-enhancing additive is required. But at 479 kg of oil equivalent. the program will create 36.8 g/km in 1995. and the energy demand is expected to grow at the rate of 4. With the introduction of ethanol in Brazil. The sugar industry is the source of the livelihood of 45 million farmers and their dependants. India. which has to be rectified by introducing an additive.8%per annum. Acetaldehydes emissions generate less adverse health effects when compared to formaldehydes emitted from gasoline engines.

does not have access to energy services. Renewable energy. so access to modern decentralized small-scale energy technologies.). Increase in nutrients to soil.25% of this consumption. older people and children suffer disproportionately because of their relative dependence on traditional fuels and their exposure to smoke from cooking. are an important element for effective poverty alleviation policies. mostly in rural areas. etc. the by-products like finesse (solid residue left after distillation) and filter cake contain valuable nutrients. cooking. particularly renewable (including bio fuels). Electricity through transmission lines to many rural areas is unlikely to happen in the near future. A programme that develops energy from raw material grown in rural areas will go a long way in providing energy security to the rural people. and iv) Reduce indoor pollution caused by firewood use. the main cause of respiratory diseases. Women. decrease in soil erosion and land degradation In ethanol production from sugarcane. Improved social well-being A large part of India s population. International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) compares the nutrient content of filter cake obtained from various oilseeds in biodiesel manufacture with that of commonly used fertilizers like Di Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) and Urea and demonstrates that the filter cake is an effective fertilizer: Also the cultivation of land for sugarcane and oilseed-bearing crops contributes to decrease in soil erosion and land degradation. which could be hazardous and avoids pollution of ground water and rivers. The volatility of oil prices poses great risks for the world s economic and political stability. Using these organic fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers reduces the need for chemicals. Lack of access to affordable energy services among therural poor seriously affects their chances of benefiting from economic development and improved living standards. ii) Reduce the time spent by women and children on basic survival activities (gathering firewood. Potable water can reduce hunger by allowing for cooked food (95% of food needs cooking). including bio fuels. iii) Allow lighting which increases security and enables the night time use of educational media and communication at school and home. which may result in physical hardships and economic burdens. can help diversify energy supply and increase energy security. Dependence on imported fuels leaves many countries vulnerable to possible disruptions in supplies. The enhanced use of renewable (mainly bio fuels) in rural areas is closely linked to poverty reductions because greater access to energy services can: I) Improve access to pumped drinking water. together with a reduction in deforestation. fetching water. Good fuel properties 3 . with unusually dramatic effects on energy-importing developing nations.

Given the increasing public mistrust for and rejection of transgenic crops as food.Ethanol has a research octane number of 120. resulting in more rural poverty. ethanol blending increases the octane number without having to add a carcinogenic substance like benzene or a health-risk posing chemical like methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). The esters of the long-chain fattyacids of biodiesel are excellent lubricants for the fuel injection system.9% higher than that of an ethanol-powered engine. this differences 30% since ethanol engines can run more efficiently (ate higher compression ratio) because of the higher octane rating.Thus. It has a higher flash point than diesel. grain. The biotech industry is using the current bio fuel fever to greenwash its image by developing and deploying transgenic seeds for energy. The deploym ent of such crops into the environment will add one more environmental threat to those already linked Togo corn. Its cetin number (a n indication obits fuel burning efficiency) is 52 for biodiesel fromJatropha oil. environment al destruction and hunger. respectively. These new food and fuel alliances are deciding the future of the world s agricultural landscapes.9 MJ/kg compared to 44. a technology they claim has no negative impacts on human health. petroleum companies. genetic engineering. Biodiesel has good fuel properties. unburned hydrocarbons and particulate matter in the exhaust.6%). Other advantages are the almost zero sulphur content and the reduced amount of carbon monoxide. how and how much will be grown. car companies. The flammability limit of ethanol (19% in air) is higher than that of petrol (7. In actuality. The bio fuels boom will further consolidate their hold over our food and fuel systems and allow them to determine what. This would suggest that the fuel economy (km/l ) oaf petrolpowered engine would be 38. much higher than that of petrol.0 MJ/kg for petrol. ethanol may require a biocide to prevent bacterial growth. and automotive corporations. making it a safer fuel. biotechnology will be used by corporations to improve their image claiming that they will develop new genetically modified crops with enhanced biomass production or that contain the enzyme _amylase which will allow the ethanol process to begin while the corn is still in the field. higher than the 42 to 48 cetane number ofmost petroleum diesels. It has 10% built -in oxygen content that helps it to burn fully. which is between 87 and 98. Biodiesel has a high viscosity at low temperatures. ethanol is safer than petrol due to the lower likelihood of catching fire. leading to flow problems at these temperatures. humid conditions. As governments are persuaded by the promises of the global bio fuel   . but none of these problems have manifested in the millions of hours of running automobile engines in Brazil. comparable to or even better than petroleum diesel. The other side of bio fuels is not effective The energy crisis driven by over-consumption and peak oil has provided an opportunity for powerful global partnerships between petroleum.Th us. The energy content of ethanol is only 26. and biotech giants. For a 10% ethano l blend the fuel economy advantage of a petrol engine is only 3%. But there are a few technical issues that need to be resolved. not food production. For longtermstorage in hot. and likewise the auto -ignition temperature of ethanol is higher than that of petrol (366 versus 300°C). The ultimate beneficiaries of the bio fuel revolution will be grain merchant giants. Ethanol s higher latent heat of vaporization and greater propensity to absorb moisture may lead to engine starting and corrosion problems.

diesel fuel spent in mechanized harvesting and the transportation of sugarcane to the processing mill). There is great need for social analy sis to anticipate the food security and environmental implications of the unfoldingbiofuel plans. dependent upon intensive use of herbicides and chemical fertilizers. The two main categories of liquid bio fuels for transportation are biodiesel and bio ethanol. are renewable. In this paper we review the technological characteristics of ethanol as a fuel. a fuel with lower toxicity than fossil fuels [3]. and political andenvironmentalissuesassociatedwith fossil fuels. seeds and other resources and domestic farm and food policies that respond to the true needs of fa rmers and all consumers. uncertainty in fossil fuel supply. Exhaust emissions associated with ethanol are less toxic than those associated with gasoline. The addition of ethanol instead of lead to gasoline has lowered the total carbon monoxide (CO). pesticides. andbiofuel production is neither environmentally and socially sustainable now nor in the future. and putting greater pressure on creating a domestic and less expensive source of fuel. Commissions were higher than 50 g/km driven. they had been reduced to less than 5. More importantly. Before the Brazilian Alcohol Program started. the present 'status' of the ethanol Programming Brazil. The net energy balance The net energy balance for ethanol is defined here as the ratio of the energy contained in a given volume of ethanol divided by the fossil energy required for its production ( in the form of fertilizers. It is also worrisome that public universities and research systems are falling presto the seduction of big money and the influence of politics and corporate power. which can be produced from any fat or oil through a relatively simple transesterification process. the ecosystems of areas in which bio fuel crops are being produced are being rapidly degraded. Biodiesel: Biodiesel. fuel monocultures. Renewable energy has gained renewed interest and funding recently due to high crude oil price.biodiesel. In March 2008. Clearly. they devise national bio fuel plans that will lock their agro -systems into production based on large scale. especially the poor. local food production systems. the characteristics of ethanol as a renewable land reform. when gasoline was the only fuel in use. and have lower atmospheric reactivity [4]. thus diverting millions of hectares of valuable cropland from much needed food production. The use of ethanol has also reduced Commissions drastically. hydrocarbons and sulphur emissions significantly. we need to work together to ens ure that all countries retain the right to achieve food sovereignty via agro ecologically Biofuelsare an attractive alternative as they have environmental benefits compared to fossil fuels. Other advantages of biodiesel are that it yields 5 . access to water. the price of crude oil peaked above a record $100 per barrel.8 g/km in 1995. the future perspectives of the ethanol Program in Characteristics of ethanol as a renewable fuel Presently all gasoline used in Brazil is blended with 25% anhydrous ethanol. is easily incorporated into diesel engines with little or no modifications (www. and can be domestically produced.

or AFEX (Ammonia Fibber Explosion) pre-treatment to destabilize lignin andhemicellulose and make cellulose accessible to cellulose enzymes. food production will have to double to feed the growing human population (Hill et al. and fertilizers. by Genetically engineered crops for bio fuel production: regulatory perspectives 333many estimates. has been engineered into over 85% of the U.Bio ethanol: bio ethanol. is almost exclusively from the corn grain by the hydrolysis and fermentation of starch. The most common transgenic traits utilized for insect resistance are Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins. 2006). Coleopteran. making it also food based fuel.epa. In addition. and these proteins are specific to certain orders of insects (Lepidoptera. Utilizing transgenic plants with modified cell wall composition and engineered microbes for enhanced fermentation is expected to significantly increase the efficiency of cellulosic bio ethanol production.. 2006). pesticides. The development of transgenic plants engineered for enhanced bio fuel conversion is expected to be the most rapid and efficient solution. it directly competes with food production.htm). 2008). Another source of ethanol is cellulosic bio ethanol. such as soybean and palm oil. there is not enough arable land to produce sufficient biofuelfeedstocks to replace more than 15% of transportation fuel using existing technologies (Goessel. corn grain ethanol only produces only about25% more energy than is invested during production and will not be able to meet the energy demands of countries such as the United States (Hill et al.S. which utilizes the breakdown of cellulose to sugar. glyph sate tolerance. only nine Bt genes have been utilized to develop transgenic crops (http://www. The most widely used trait for herbicide resistance. 1998). The challenge with cellulosic bio ethanol is that hydrolysis of cellulose is currently a difficult process that requires acid. one of the main disadvantages of biodiesel is that because the source is limited to seed crops... 2006). produced from sugars extracted from a plant source and steam. 6 . However.93%more energy than is invested in its production and produces less air pollutants than bio ethanol and fossil fuels (Hill et al. 2006).soybean crop but only about 25% of the corn (Fernandez-Cronje J.. 2008). Cellulosic ethanol s main advantage is that is not a food-based fuel and can be developed using agricultural plant waster plants such as switch grass and sorghum that require low inputs of water. Food based fue l crops are a concern as it is predicted that in the next 50 years. etc) with limited cross reactivity. However. However. There are over 140 genes identified from Bacillus thuringiensis that encode end toxins (Crick more et al. especially for the production of fuels from lignocelluloses biomass (Goessel. in part due to the rigorous regulatory process.

and is highlighted below. Lefebvre et al. 2005. they will be able to be also grown in marginal cropland and increase the available area for bio fuel production.. Researchers have been working for years to improve drought and salinity stress in crops. Recommendations Most of these changes are expected to benefit the regulation of transgenic plants by streamlining the regulatory process and developing a more science based assessment system.This trait provides transgenic plants withal large selective advantage over conventional plants and allows farmers to spray their fields with glyph sate to kill off most weeds without harm to the transgenic crops.. These traits would be especially valuable for crops grown for biomass.. Sakamoto et al. 2002 . One final approach to increasing biomasses a class of strategies by which the photosynthetic efficiency of plants can be increased for improved growth and yield. Change in plant architecture to enhance photosynthetic capacity has also recently shown to be effective in improving biomass and grain yield in r ice (Sakamotoet al. the most productive land should always be used to produce food crops. BIOMASS YIELD Mutations in specific genes or expression of single genes by transgenic approaches increased overall biomass production in plants (Levy et al.. The next category of transgenic traits that could be introduced for biofueluse includes plants engineered to have increased tolerance to biotic stresses such as drought and salinity. 2006). These are the two leading causes of crop loss worldwide (Vincor et al. 7 . The efficiency by which the plant biomass is utilized for bio fuel production depends on the ability by which appropriate hydrolytic enzymes access and hydrolyze cell wall polysaccharides. 2006). and these traits could become valuable for crops intended for bio fuel production. As there is growing public concern with producing fuel instead of food on farmland. The key factors that determine the cost of conversion of biomass to bio fuels are the amount of biomass produced per unit area and the efficiency by which the polysaccharides present in biomass is hydrolyzed and converted to bio fuels. In July 2008 alone. Bio ethanol has taken precedence as Prime Bio fuel after lot of controversy erupted on international food shortages and spiralling food prices.. 2005) and are projected to affect 50% of the global arable land by 2050. By increasing plants abioticstress tolerance. big investments in sugarcane/ethanol production were announced across the globe in sugar producing countries in the order of over 500 million dollars.

fifteen 8 . The International Energy Agency (IEA) plays the role of energy policy advisor to 27 member countries on issues related to providing "reliable.35 million barrels a day in 2008 to 1. feed and fibber production. economic development and reduction of greenhouse gases. Worldwide sugarcane occupies an area of 20. (1) Bio fuels production using "first generation feedstocks" (such as grains for ethanol and oil seeds for biodiesel) may compete with food. an estimated 55% of the growth in non -OPEC oil supply can be attributed to Bio fuels. and India is a good example of properly managed production of sustainable Bio fuels ("excellent characteristics in terms of economics. Field trials of GM sugarcane crops for these traits are being undertaken i n Brazil and Australia. fertilizer intake.The International Energy Agency sees world Bio fuels production rising from 1. 2003). bacteria.95 million barrels a day in 2013 only five years away.343 million ha). (3) Ethanol production from sugarcane produced in tropical or subtropical countries like Brazil. in 2008. however. Southern Africa. support for research and development is important in order to lower production cost.and it is a safe bet that most of this increase will come from sugarcane ethanol. water use. and aluminium toxicity). carbon dioxide reduction and lo w land use requirements"). although "currently less than 2% of global agricultural cropland is used for Bio fuels production".1 tons/ha). affordable and clean energy for their citizens". (2) Bio fuels produced from "second generation feedstock s" (lignocelluloses biomass. Approaches such as transgenesis and marker-assisted selection may thus prove essential.000 sugar cane expressed sequence tags (EST) a database has been developed containing a wealth of genetic information related to plant resistance and/or tolerance to biotic stresses (viruses. This information will help scientists to develop improved sugar cane varieties and therefore increase the use of this crop for sustainable energy production. and the very nature of sugar production in sugarcane are likely to undergo major changes with the modern tools of biotechnology and genetic modification. while Australia has the highest productivity (85.42 million ha with a total production of 1333 million metric tons (FAO. By sequencing over 240. and it takes 10 to 15 years to produce a new variety by conventional selection. Yet sugarcane is sensitive to biotic stresses such as frost or aluminium toxicity. Sugarcane area and productivity differ widely from country to country (Table 1). sucrose content. and a multitude of herbivores) and biotic stresses (such as drought. Sugarcane is hard to grow. Of 121 sugarcane producing countries. Brazil has the highest area ( 5. The structure. such as woody biomass and vegetative grasses) have "considerable promise for eventually providing more sustainable types of Bio fuels. as well as the importance of sustainable Bio fuels production. fungi. cold. (4) (4) Bio fuels are becoming increasingly important in meeting the global demand for transport fuel. The IEA website posted a recent statement on the agency's views on the impacts of Bio fuels on food/energy security.

They also reduce Emissions and enable a platform to avail Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in reducing Meth nation. China is some of the Asian countries that actively promote ethanol production from cane molasses for fuel blending. other sugar -producing countries such as India. Thailand.1% of production (Table 1). Visible was effect of dependence on Hydrocarbons and its Impact on Economies which is swift and Unpredictable. India. USA. studies have revealed that Australia. Mexico. Sugarcane In The world: Area. Of the total white crystal sugar production. Columbia. Columbia and South Africa could produce significant amounts of ethanol. and China have set up demonstration projects using lignocelluloses biomass for ethanol production There are concerns that such expansion could generate an indirect pressure pushing cattle into the Amazonia leading to further deforestation in that area. Renewable like Bio ethanol minimize such Risks. Key to Success of Future energy needs is to achieve energy without conflict of Interests for water. South Africa are also fairly attractive. China. approximately 70% comes from sugarcane and 30% from sugar beet.countries (Brazil. 9 . Mexico. apart to generating Rural Employment and improving Rural Livelihoods manifold. China. Cuba. Australia. land. making life of Ordinary populace more miserable. Bangladesh) 86% of area and 87. produced under proper conditions. Argentina. Sugarcane has proven to be the most successful feedstock. Philippines. Production And Productivity Bio ethanol when blended with Petrol acts as oxygenates to burn Hydrocarbons completely reducing emissions. Pakistan. Thailand. On the contrary. Thailand. Myanmar. food Economies with large-scale agriculture and forestry operations such as Canada. is essentially a renewable fuel and has clear advantages over gasoline in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality in metropolitan areas. particulates and noxious gases. South Africa. Colombia already has four large distilleries in operation. India. Feedstock availability and Scale is critical for successful blending. Vietnam. what has happened is that the density of cattle on pastureland has increased from 1. Pakistan Bangladesh. Table 1.41 heads of cattle/hectare in 2005 [18]. also on Co2 reductions and also in generating CNG out of Distillation Sludge. but there is no direct evidence for that.28 heads of cattle/hectare in 2001 to1. Paki stan.On a worldwide scale. Besides these. Mauritius. the United States. Ethanol from sugarcane. Indonesia.