Net Carbon Emission/ Environmentally Friendly Fuel
Analysis of anthropogenic (human contributed) greenhouse gases emissions on a life-cycle basis shows that biofuels produce fewer emissions than fossil fuels. For instance, Natural Resources Canada estimates that in Canada:
Burning the fuels will release carbon dioxide; but the growing of the plants absorb a comparable amount of the gas from the atmosphere. Using ethanol rather than petrol reduces total emissions of carbon dioxide by about 13%
The carbon emissions (Carbon footprint) produced by biofuels are calculated using a technique called Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). This technique uses a "cradle to grave" or "well to wheels" approach to calculate the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted during biofuel production, right from when the seeds are planted in the ground to using the fuel in cars and trucks.
Many different LCAs have been conducted for different biofuels, with widely differing results. The majority of LCA studies conclude that biofuels provide significant greenhouse gas emission savings when compared to fossil fuels such as petroleum and diesel. Therefore, using biofuels to replace a proportion of the fossil fuels that are used for transportation can reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.
The well-to-wheel analysis for biofuels has shown that first generation biofuels can save up to 60% carbon emission and second generation biofuels can save up to 80% as compared to using fossil fuels. 'First-generation fuels' refer to biofuels made from sugar, starch, vegetable oil, or animal fats using conventional technology (e.g. fermentation, anaerobic digestion, gasification) Second-generation biofuel production processes uses a variety of non food crops. These include waste biomass, the stalks of wheat, corn, wood, and special-energy-or-biomass crops (e.g. Miscanthus).
Second generation (2G) biofuels use biomass to liquid technology, including cellulosic biofuels which comes from non food crops. Many second generation biofuels are under development, such as biohydrogen, biomethanol, DMF, Bio-DME, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, biohydrogen diesel, mixed alcohols and wood diesel.