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On Our Plate: Hitting the Road With Biofuels
In the United States, the Memorial Day holiday (the last Monday in May) is the unofficial start of summer. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that 80 percent of Americans, more than 250 million people, will be hitting the road for their summer vacation in 2017.
This week, On Our Plate showcases a story from the 2015 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) highlighting the important role biofuels play in mitigating climate change and strengthening rural economies.
Advances in biological research and development are propelling agriculture in new directions, providing cleaner fuels for production and transportation activities. Through agricultural science, biofuel crops are developed with higher yields and the right qualities that transform them to readily available renewable energy without impacting food supplies.
Switchgrass, soybeans, sweet sorghum, corn, jatropha and algae serve as “feedstocks” (the materials used for energy). The products and byproducts of these crops create fuel substitutes that replace a portion of petroleum-based fuels, reducing carbon emissions while adding jobs for rural Americans.
Biodiesel is a successful example of how agriculture is providing cleaner fuels, particularly for freight and transport uses, while first meeting the world’s need for food and livestock feed. Diesel is the prime fuel for powering farm machinery and tractors and for transporting agricultural products.
Biodiesel is better for the environment because it is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions compared to petroleum diesel. It is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar.
Biodiesel is made from rapidly renewable sources such as soybean oil, animal fats, used cooking oil, and even new sources such as algae. All diesel engines can use biodiesel without modification, and biodiesel can be blended with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2.8 billion gallons of biodiesel were produced in the U.S. in 2016. This biodiesel was used to power cars and trucks, farm machinery and equipment, buses, rail engines and boats. The biodiesel industry estimates that biodiesel production supports about 64,000 jobs. With global commodity prices low, biofuel production is also an important source of income for U.S. farmers who are struggling to make ends meet.
Below are articles highlighting the environmental and economic benefits of biofuels and their future prospects.
Sea-Tac Wants All Its Flights to Run On Biofuel. And It Has a Plan to Do It.
Seattle Weekly, January 26, 2017
Passion for biodiesel fuels small-business owner
Journal of Business (Spokane, Washington), May 11, 2017
Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Renewable Fuels with Biodiesel Tax Credit
Hoosier Ag Today, April 28, 2017
Biodiesel Production Continues to Benefit Nebraska Ag Producers
Nebraska Soybean Board, May 16, 2017