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Bio-fuels and Future Energy Needs - Essay Example

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Summary
The American economy has become an area of much concern because of its long-term sustainability. While it has long been known that energy plays a critical role in the growth and sustainability of economic growth in America, a dilemma has arisen regarding the choice of energy sources and the consumption rate of energy. …
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Bio-fuels and Future Energy Needs
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Bio-fuels and Future Energy Needs

Download file to see previous pages... Americans have begun to make choices regarding the type of energy depending on the long-term sustainability of energy, in addition with the environmental impacts, portended by these choices. Because of this, agricultural bio-systems have become a significant player in the determination of the American energy sector’s future. The Future of Bio-fuels As the Main Source of Energy Although bio-fuels are still some way off replacing other forms of fuel, the diversity of biomass being converted to fuel has continued to increase (Demirbas 22). It is now becoming an increasingly popular form of energy in research, especially with soybeans and corn. However, soybeans and corn alone are not enough to change the dependence of America on fossil fuel. It has been estimated that the US has a supply of approximately one and a half billion tones of sustainable biomass every year. This can be used for producing liquid fuel, which provides for only around thirty percent of fuel that is needed for America’s annual requirements. Another route for future bio-fuel use regards the increasing popularity of other techniques of converting biomass into bio-fuel. Currently, ethanol is developed by using only the kernels of corn since it is the only part of the corn ear that has enough sugars for fermentation and distillation. However, in the future, husks and stalks could be used for the production of bio-fuels as more advancement continues to emerge (Demirbas 23). These husks are made of the polymer cellulose that is made up of sugar molecules. If treated with an appropriate catalyst, the sugars can undergo fermentation and distillation to come up with alcohol. This would make the process of converting biomass into bio-fuels more efficient by saving on the corn itself and using the other parts of the corn plant. Once there is a way of efficiently converting biomass to bio-fuels, the pressure applied on food production by bio-fuel energy should dissipate and make this a choice source of energy in the future. Impacts of Bio-Fuels on Food Supplies Bio-fuels have raised concerns with dieticians, nutritionists, biologists, and farmers with regards to supply of food (Demirbas 31). A question that this technology raises is whether the use of popular food crops for the production of energy is sustainable. Over the period when it has been used, input costs have skyrocketed such as machinery, storage, fertilizer, pesticides and seeds. This has led to a carry-on effect to the consumer. Additionally, aggressive farming techniques have seen soil erosion and depletion that have caused a discernible decrease in crop yields, thus decreasing food supply to the consumers. Farmers in the Mid-west have begun to devote more of their land to the production of corn, which has led to a perpetuation of mono cropping that has led to a decrease in bio-diversity (Demirbas 38). Although the change may not be immediately discernible, the results will eventually transform the supply of food and the way people eat. Subsidization of agricultural products meant for energy production portends a huge influence on the health and nutrition of the American people. When mono-crops become the norm, food supply diversity dwindles and this will be reflected in the diets of the American people. Furthermore, as more crops are directed towards ethanol production, their price will fluctuate. As corn demand rises, its price will also increase leading to a rise in cost of eggs, poultry, dairy products and beef. This will prove critical to families with low income devoting 30-40% of their budgets towards food, as well as to the budgets of nutrition programs in the US that deal with such programs ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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