Biofuel can be broadly defined as solid, liquid, or gas fuel derived from recently dead biological material.
Bio-fuels are fuels that can be used to replace polluting fuels such as petrol, without damaging the environment. A fuel such as ‘willow’ is a good example. Willow grows quickly on most land and it can be harvested like any agricultural crop. Whilst it is growing it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, reducing the amount of pollution in the atmosphere. When it is burned as a fuel it releases less carbon into the atmosphere than it absorbs whilst growing. This means that it is a ‘green’ fuel. It does not increase the amount of pollution in the atmosphere, in fact during its life cycle it reduces these damaging gases.
1. Willow grows quickly and is harvested. The wood is stored until transported to a processing plant for ‘chipping’.
2. The willow is processed. Each trunk is fed through a ‘chipping’ machine - the chippings are collected and packaged for distribution.
3. The willow chippings are fed into a boiler and burned to produce heat. This replaces gas, oil or coal as an energy source. Water is heated and pumped around the building in the same way as in most heating systems.
The boiler for burning chippings is usually slightly more expensive than a gas or oil burning boiler. However, the fuel is cheaper producing savings over a period of time.