Better bio-fuels?

“A new study in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy shows that the addition of alumina nanoparticles can improve the performance and combustion of biodiesel, while producing fewer emissions.” [ScienceDaily]

This looks like good news until you realise that if this took place we would be dumping tonnes of nano-particles into the environment, something that has  already proved toxic to both the environment and humans. This hardly seems like an improvement.

Indeed the article later quotes R. B. Anand, one of the report authors, as saying that nano-particles “should be used judiciously” because they  “entrain into human bodies”.

Let’s clarify that ‘entrain’ bit.  The chemistry definition of ‘entrain’ is “To carry (suspended particles, for example) along in a current.” []. In other words, these particles get inside us and essentially poison us.

This might be seen as a reasonable risk to take given that we’re helping the environment by improving bio-fuels.

Except we aren’t.

Bio-fuels do nothing to improve the cleanliness of vehicles or power plants of any type. They burn the same type of fuel as petroleum-based products and while petroleum products release most of their pollution when burned, bio-fuels release large quantities during their actual production too.

The push to market bio-fuels, whether in the form of diesel or ethanol, is a smoke and mirrors act aimed at deflecting the necessity to change our way of thinking. It protects vehicle manufacturers’ interests by lifting the requirement to invest in development of truly clean vehicles and also nicely lines the pockets of that other big industrial group – the farmers.

Oil is not about to run out overnight, despite the high prices caused by the supposed current ‘shortages’. What we need is a concerted investment into research aimed at developing truly efficient and environmentally-friendly power-plants. Electric or hybrid cars don’t help either – they just displace where the emissions are generated.

Hydrogen fuel-cell technology seems to be the best answer, but there is limited investment in this because of the politicised focus on so-called ‘alternatives’ that serve only to protect the status-quo of current big money concerns.

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