Biofuels are made up of plants that have been harvested and they were made so that they could replace fossil fuels.  There are three different kinds of biofuels:  biodiesel, ethanol, and bio-jet fuel.

Fossil Fuels

There are many different kinds of fossil fuels such as gasoline, coal, and diesel.  These types of fuels are made from animals and plants that have died many, many years ago, and then their remains are used to make these fuels.

Targray Biodiesel Railcar


Biodiesel is made by changing the fat, oil, and grease that is taken from animals and plants.  Vegetable oil is used to make biodiesel.

Biodiesel is used in trucks, tractors, and other large vehicles that use fuel.  These vehicles use diesel fuel so that they can run.

Biodiesel is usually made by mixing regular diesel and biodiesel.


Another word for ethanol is alcohol.  This type of alcohol in ethanol is made from grains.  This type of alcohol is just like the alcohol that people drink, and it is made up of grains such as barley, wheat, grass, corn, and more.

Ethanol is used in most cars that run.  The cars use ethanol which is gasoline in order to drive.

In some areas, people mix ethanol with gasoline in order to make a product that is called gasohol.  This helps cars to be able to run.

In different countries, the mixture of gasoline and ethanol is different.  In the United States, it is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, but in other countries like Brazil, there is 100 percent ethanol and 0 percent gasoline.

Bio Jet

Bio jet fuels are used in airplanes and in jets.

Renewable versus Non-Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is when something can be replaced once it is used.  When something is non-renewable, it means that once it is all used up, it can no longer be replaced.

Why are Biofuels Important?

Biofuels are important because they are renewable energy sources.  This means that biofuels can be replaced when they are used.  This also means that we will never run out of biofuels because they can always be replaced.

Another important thing about biofuels is that they are better for the environment than other types of energy sources because they do not increase the carbon dioxide that flows in the air.

Biofuels are better for air quality, as well, because they do not make as much smoke and soot that other resources can produce.  They also do not have as many chemicals that come out of them which can cause things to happen to the environment like acid rain and other environmental problems.


Are Biofuels Dangerous?

Some people believe that biofuels are dangerous, and some believe they are not.  Even though they seem to produce less smoke, less smoot, less carbon dioxide, some believe that they are bad because they cause animals and plants to become extinct since they have to be used from growing crops.

Other people do not like biofuels because they take up an area where people can grow food and instead, they grow biofuels.  When this happens in poor countries, they have less farmland and they cannot grow as much food that is needed.

Used vegetable cooking oil

How Are Biofuels Made?

Ethanol is made by harvesting plants such as corn and allowing bacteria to digest it.  When this happens, the crop is fermented, and this causes ethanol to be created.

Biodiesel has to use a chemical reaction in order to be made.  One way is called transesterification.  Transesterification means that fat is broken down with methanol and this makes biodiesel.

Facts About Biofuels:

  • Biofuel is made from feedstock.
  • Ethanol can be made from sugar beet, grass, and sugar cane.
  • Biodiesel can be made from cactus-like plants.
  • More than 20 billion gallons of biofuel are made each year.
  • One of the most common biodiesels is called B20.
  • Ethanol is also sometimes known as E10.
  • When farms are used to make biofuels, it can cause the cost of farm products to increase because there are not as many that are grown.
  • Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is biofuel?  A biofuel is a type of fuel that has been made from plants that have been harvested.
  • What are the three types of biofuels?  The three types of biofuels are ethanol, biodiesel, and bio-jet fuel.
  • What do renewable resources mean?  When a resource is renewable, it means that it can be replaced.
  • What do non-renewable resources mean?  When a resource is non-renewable, it means that it cannot be replaced.
  • What are biofuels used for?  Biofuels are used to make cars, trucks, and planes to run.