Biofuel: South Africa gearing up for a Biobased Economy

B.B. Marvey Oil prices continue to rise and have more than doubled over the past year apparently due to rising demand in fast-growing economies and supply disruptions in the Middle East and Nigeria. Some analysts are in fact predicting that oil production levels should hit their maximum soon after 2010 thus causing prices for petrol and other fuels to reach disastrous levels. In the mean time South Africa (SA) has been experiencing disruptions in electricity supply causing huge losses for local businesses and creating a situation best described as a "national emergency" by the Public...

Biofuels boom risks increasing landlessness among world's poor

The global biofuels boom risks harming poor people in poor countries by forcing them off land they depend on, says a report published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. But the report adds that biofuels are not all bad, and shows that their production can also allow poor groups to increase their access to land and improve their livelihoods if the right policies are in place.

Biofuels: The Debate Continues

Henry Ford's first car ran on alcohol, a form of biofuel. That was a century ago, and, with the discovery of fossil fuels, the use of biofuels diminished significantly. Today, however, as the world faces unstable oil prices and an increasingly urgent energy crisis, in tandem with environmental concerns such as global warming and climate changes, biofuels are making a comeback. However, this comeback is not without controversy.

Malawi Government pushes green vehicles

As crude oil prices hit a record high, the Malawi government has launched a project to ensure that all vehicles in the country switch to the cheaper and greener alternative fuel - ethanol - in a few years. Besides promoting the production of ethanol from sugar molasses, the 5-year US$1 million project, funded by the Malawi government, is investigating the possibility of converting conventional vehicles into dual-fuel vehicles, or flexible-fuel - 'flex-fuel' - vehicles (FFVs), which can run on a combination of fuels. "The country's decision to use ethanol is in line with procedures aimed at...

Algal biodiesel - a worthy successor of fossil fuels?

Could harvesting biodiesel from algae provide a sustainable solution to the world's fuel crises? Researchers in the CSIR's bioprocessing development research group have embarked on a project to answer this question and present algae as an alternative energy source for Africa. "Algae have long been known to produce lipids that can be used for biodiesel production," says Dheepak Ramduth, the lead researcher on the project. "With the current worldwide focus on cleaner fuels and environmental awareness, algal biodiesel is an attractive option, as the specific production of oil per unit biomass is...


Subscribe to Biotechnology