Renewable energy sources are growing in popularity as sustainable and eco-friendly fuel alternatives develop. We’re beginning to see more biofuels being used over traditional fossil fuels in everyday appliances, for example using biomass boilers for heating. So, what other types of ‘biofuels’ can you use to heat your home?
Burning woodBSW Timber recently became the first sawmiller in the UK to use biomass fuel to generate its electricity. And an 18th century estate in Devon claims to be saving thousands of pounds a year by using biomass boilers. Wood pellets, chips or logs can be used for biomass fuel. If more sawmillers, homes and even businesses switched to a biomass boiler to fuel their treatment plants, kilns, offices and houses, our heating and energy use may cost less and lower carbon emissions – it’s a win-win for the environment and our heating bills.
Alcohol as fuelAlcohol has had many practical uses over the years, and it’s already found its way into heaters. We’ve seen reports showing how alcohol can be an effective biofuel in other areas too. For example, Prince Charles powering his cars with ethanol made from leftover wine, or Sweden turning alcohol seized from smugglers into biogas to fuel trucks, buses, and even a train. But it could be a while before it’s cheap enough for everyday use in the home.
Energy from fatFat is packed with ‘juice’. In fact, it’s how our bodies store energy when we aren’t using it. A few years ago a plastic surgeon in LA used fat to power his two SUVs, showing us that fat could one day be used as a real source of fuel (just not from humans).
Ice cream’s biogasA large ice cream manufacturer recently discovered that waste from making ice cream can be used to produce biogas. This is done through a method called ‘anaerobic digestion’. A nearby energy plant then used the biogas to heat homes through the National Grid. According to the news story, chocolate was the most effective flavour by producing 20% more energy, beating strawberry and vanilla.
Hemp for heat
From paper and plastic to clothes, hemp has a number of industrial uses. This valuable plant might one day be used as a raw material for making biodiesel (the eco-friendly version of fossil fuel). Hemp can grow almost anywhere and at nearly any temperature, making it a viable choice for renewable energy in the future.
Renewable energy solutions such as biomass boilers have been fitted in many homes and businesses already. The UK government has also created the renewable heat incentive for homeowners who want to use green energy. So it’s possible that we’re heading towards a ‘green age’ of renewable energy - with wood the likely biofuel of choice.