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Biofuel is becoming more widely accepted by the general population in Australia, but many people still don’t know that much about what it is or where it comes from.
In Australia the most common form of biofuel is E10. This is ethanol fuel, named because it is made up of a mix of 90% unleaded fuel and up to 10% ethanol. The result is a safe and reliable fuel that has been available in some areas since the early 1990s, and is now rapidly spreading across Australia.
E10 has many benefits, for your car, your pocket, and our environment. Even more noteworthy is the fact that ethanol can be made right here in Australia, providing industry and jobs for farmers and individuals in states like Queensland.
Ethanol is made from organic matter that goes through a fermentation process. During this process, glucose is derived from raw materials like sugars, starch and cellulose. This makes it a very renewable energy source.
So, just what goes into ethanol? Well, in Australia there are six surprising sources of ethanol, including:
Sugar is a very broad category, and there are a number of different kinds of sugar by-products that we use to manufacture ethanol in Australia. Along with sugar cane and molasses, which is a popular ethanol source in Queensland, the industry also uses sugar beet in the production of environmentally friendly fuels.
Sorghum is a kind grain that in the past was primarily used as livestock feed. Now, it’s also used in the production of ethanol for E10. Sorghum is a good crop because it can be grown in many soil environments and has a shorter growing season. Plus, it’s reasonably low cost to grow, which allows growers to take on other crops as well.
Wheat is another grain that is used in the production of ethanol. A starch like sorghum, we grow and consume quite a large amount of grain in Australia as human and livestock feed. However, ethanol can also be produced, either from the feed or from the waste product of manufacturing it for consumption.
Tallow is used in the production of biodiesel, which is different from E10. Vehicles that run on biodiesel are also specifically designed to run on those fuels. It can be produced from tallow, which is kind of animal fat, and usually a waste product of the meat industry.
5. Used Cooking Oil
As well as tallow, biodiesel can also be made from used cooking oil and other cheaply produced oils. Chemical processes take these raw, and often waste, materials and create both biodiesel for cars, and glycerin for soap and other hygiene products, making it a highly effective and resource conscious process.
As you can see, the industries producing biofuels like E10 and biodiesel aren’t just making use of waste product and helping to support sustainable environmental practices. They’re also providing work and helping farming industries in Australia flourish towards a worthwhile goal. The top two sources in sugar and sorghum are most commonly sourced in Queensland, which is then used to produce E10.
For Queenslanders, being a part of the brighter biofuel future is as easy as checking that your car is E10 compatible (for unleaded cars), and choosing E10 or biodiesel the next time you’re at the bowser!