Bio-diesel vs Batteries


According to new data gathered by the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard program, bio-based diesel fuels deliver the state’s biggest reduction in carbon emissions for the transportation sector.
In 2018, the use of these bio-based fuels reduced 4.3 million tons of carbon dioxide in the U.S. state of California. This amount surpassed the reduction from ethanol for the first time since the program started in 2011. In that time renewable diesel and biodiesel have reduced CO2 emissions by more than18 million tons.

Given the performance limitations of batteries and issues around disposal, shouldn't more effort be put into bio-fuels?

David Cottrell
18 months ago

6 answers


The LCFS has resulted in 47.1 million tons of GHG emissions credits, but 38.7 million tons of GHG deficits since 2011, so only 8.7M in net credits.

EVs and PHEVs have resulted in some 4.3 billion tons of GHG emissions avoided since 2011. (Using sales numbers and the AFDC site for CA:; also, this doesn't even account for HEVs...)

Performance issues aren't really that problematic and as the industry ramps up, reuse and recycling industries will grow to support the increasing number of batteries that are no longer suitable for their original use.

Bio-fuels have the problem of raising food prices and using valuable farm land for fuel. (There is a cartoon with a rich, white guy taking a banana from a poor, brown kid and telling him that he needs this to fuel his vehicle. I encourage you to Google it...)

Bio-fuels have also never shown an ability to ramp up to the level required, i.e., sufficient size to provide fuel for the entire world.

Happy to continue the discussion.

Jon Davis
18 months ago
Jon Davis Neste use waste products as the source of their bio-diesel in order to aviod the diverting of farm lad from food crops. I realise that we will need a variety of solutions to solve our problems but have posted separately a question about Cobalt mining - David 18 months ago

The future of Biofuel seems bleak as it has been successfully killed by the promoters of fossil fuel - something similar to renewable not cutting edge even now over fossil fuels. Bio fuel did make a great news and demonstrated the world that it is quite competitive to replace fossil fuel both in efficiency and emission relief. Somehow this has not been picked up properly may be due to vested interests or the quantum availability. In a country like India we have a choice of species for cultivation - Jatropha, Pongamia and others. I have demonstrated that these species could easily be grown successfully on abandoned ash pond sites which are large areas of land ( 1 acre per MW just to dump ash and a 1000 MW would require 1000 acres of land).
The additional benefits of biofuel have been demonstrated through my publication which can be brwosed through net - De-oiled cake is an excellent manure; Glycerine, a by product has industrial applications and more importantly, biofuel spray on pulverised coal enhances the calorific value to almost double and thus reducing coal consumption in Thermal Power Plants and consequent reduction in air emissions.
In my opinion, it is not too late to lean on biofuel as everyone of us is aware the disposal consequences of batteries.

Dr. A.K. Shyam
18 months ago
Dr. A.K. Shyam Interesting. Have seen the work Neste are doing in this arena? - David 18 months ago
Thanks Dr. David. I haven't seen their work but, would be eager if you could please share. Regards, - Dr. A.K. 18 months ago
Thank you very much Dr. David for sharing the link. Regards, - Dr. A.K. 18 months ago

Biofuels have the problem of the huge amount of land required to grow them, a monoculture with a loss of biodiversity in places where are cultivated.
More efforts must be done in batteries, and in the energy to charge them, this last thing, the most important.

Isabel Moreno Indias
18 months ago
Isabel Moreno Indias Please see the link to Neste above. They only use waste product in their production process. - David 18 months ago
This is a very interesting point, but with waste product only, very difficult to maintain the whole system. Well, the key point is that we need to use multiple choices, noy only choose between biofuel or batteries - Isabel 18 months ago
Isabel Moreno Indias Fully agree. Factor in hydrogen fuel cells as well. - David 18 months ago
and solar energy for small urban trips - Isabel 18 months ago
I'm in the UK, the sun only shines a few days a year - David 18 months ago
well, this is a Spanish vision... - Isabel 18 months ago
While I agree with you on the land requirement, It is always better to turn those waste lands into cultivable - as has been successfully accomplished recently. That is one reason I quoted abandoned ash pond areas. In a country like India, we have the option of a variety of Non edible oil species as well which can be combined with them to avoid 'Monoculture'. Primary issue to change our mindset.s - Dr. A.K. 18 months ago
Good point Dr. A.K. Shyam, we need to avoid monoculture as much as possible - Isabel 18 months ago

Biodiesel seems to be potential to substitute the use of fossil fuel in future. Alas, biodiesel production using the commercial methods which are transesterification and esterification take very long reaction time and the purification is not easy. Moreover, the quality of the Biodiesel produced is not as high as the commercial petrol.
I would like to suggest of using synthetic gaseous instead of bio diesel as the source of Bioenergy.

Adrian Minh
18 months ago

The answer should be both. Batteries will be continue to improve but neither technology (bio or bat) alone will solve climate change. Good news/bad news - there's plenty of carbon for everyone and room for multiple solutions to work together..

Philip Tuet
18 months ago

Biofuels are at best carbon neutral. The biology used to make the fuel has pulled the CO2 from the air, the burning of the biofuel returns it. It is neutral only if the production of the biofuel doesn't add any CO2 in addition to the CO2 the plant removed. In this sense it is extremely better than removing carbon (oil) from the ground and releasing it as CO2. Comparing biofuels to batteries, however, is inappropriate. Batteries can't generate energy, they store it. You could even charge your EV by burning biofuels. Biofuels versus oil; a good thing, biofuel versus solar cells; biofuels loose, biofuels versus a battery; nonsensical. There are good carbon footprints on the production of batteries available, there are also some pretty good estimates on the actual carbon footprint of biofuel production.

Darin S. Olson
18 months ago
In a forum designed to encourage open debate, I find the term 'nonsensical' inappropriate. I appreciate your views on the topic and ask if you know the energy demands of battery production and disposal. - David 18 months ago

Have some input?