One way is if we use hydrogenation of oils and fat as opposed to sugar and corn. Using recycled cooking oil and fat is at this point accessible in small volumes because it was in low demand. Previously its processed biofuel form required engine modification, a expensive process for manufacturers that may not necessarily pay off even with government subsidy. Now hydrogenation of oils and fat can be blended with diesel up to 50% without modification. Hydrogenation is a more expensive process than distilling sugar and corn into fuel form, but if we can create a highly organized way to extract used cooking products from commercial and non-commercial sources all over the country, then we will have no import costs (for sugar) and no competition with food markets (for corn) driving up the costs.
Researchers think that by genetically programming microbes within the biofuel to self-destruct after they achieve photosynthesis, the need to separate the bacteria from the oil will be eliminated. Removing the need for this separation process will help to reduce the cost of biofuel because it is the act of separating (the bad bacteria from the good oil) that is the most expensive part of creating biofuel.
This research was first published in 2009 so it is likely that the team of researchers working out of Arizona State University are that much closer to their goal of making these initial findings a reality.
We already have some fuel that is currently free because it is already a waste product. However, if enough people convert their vehicles to run on vegetable oil, restaurants may start selling it instead of just giving it away for free.
Another option is producing hydrogen from certain types of algae. While most hydrogen today requires electricity (usually from coal) to produce, it is feasible that hydrogen could be considered a major biofuel in the future.
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