Special focus: biofuels and the future of energy

A waving field of golden corn  

The production and use of biofuels is experiencing acceleration in both the scale of the industry and the number of countries involved. This pace of advancement in technology, policy, and investment suggests that these fuels have the potential to displace a significant share of the oil now consumed in many countries.


Surging investment in biofuel production is being driven by a variety of factors, including the development of more efficient conversion technologies, strong new government policies, the desire to find new markets for farmers' products and, primarily, the rising price of oil and the need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.


Selected biofuels news

Biofuels 'bad for the environment'

Biofuels could produce twice the carbon emissions of the fossil fuels they replace, environmentalists have claimed.

Air New Zealand completes biofuel test flight

A commercial aircraft has completed a test flight partially powered by second-generation biofuels, in a move to demonstrate the feasibility of using more sustainable fuels in existing aircraft.

Biodiesel workshop prompts UK-China collaboration

British biologists working on developing biodiesel alternatives to petrol have sealed a research agreement with their counterparts at a Chinese university.

Biotech firm awarded £560,000 to boost 'green' fuel development

An Oxfordshire biotechnology company has secured funding to develop a low-cost manufacturing process for 'next generation' biofuel.

Proposed biofuel process "could meet entire US transport needs"

Chemical engineers at Purdue University in Indiana are working on a process for producing liquid fuels from plant matter that, they believe, could provide all the fuel needed for "the entire US transportation sector."

Railway biofuel trial goes live

A train running on biodiesel-blend has started running scheduled passenger services for the first time in Europe. The Virgin Voyager made its inaugural run today (Thursday) from London to north Wales carrying Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson and prime-minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown.

Aero companies plan biofuel flight demo

Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Air New Zealand are teaming up to conduct a biofuel test flight, as part of a wider programme of research into viable and sustainable alternative fuels for commercial aviation.

Biofuel tested in Northumberland buses

Transport group Arriva is trialling B20 biodiesel - a blend of normal and plant-derived diesel - for the first time on its buses.

Bus firm calls off biofuel trial

A major bus company has abandoned UK trials of biodiesel because of concerns over the sustainability of the fuel production process.

Buses to run on used cooking oil

Bus operator Stagecoach has launched a six-month environmental initiative that will let bus customers exchange used cooking oil for discounted travel. The Bio-bus scheme is expected to cut CO2 emissions by 82 per cent.

Commercial airline flies plane on biofuel blend

A Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet has flown from London to Amsterdam using a biofuel blend alongside conventional jet fuel.

Selected biofuels features

Milking the microbes

Milking the microbes

The use of synthetic biology techniques is opening new doors in the production of renewable biofuels but, as E&T discovers, this work is still at an early stage of development.

Coming clean

Is the rail industry racing up the wrong track in its haste to boost its green credentials?

Grow and go

It isn’t just carbon-belching coal-fired power stations that are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. With 27 per cent of total output, the electricity industry is undeniably the UK’s largest source of CO2 emissions, but at 25 per cent the transport industry comes a very close second.

To eat or to burn

At present biofuels are being heralded as one of the solutions to reducing the use of fossil fuels, but everything is not as rosy at it initially appears in the biofuels garden.

Fuelling the dilemma

What are the alternatives to sugar and grain-based biofuel crops?

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1605

"We visit Barcelona, one of the smartest cities in the world, to find out what makes it so special. What does it look like and what is the future?"

E&T jobs

  • Senior Development Engineer, Electronics

    Premium job

    Helmet Integrated Systems / Gentex Corporation
    • Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire
    • Competitive

    We are innovative, robust and fast growing business, whose main focus is to deliver continues improvement to existing products and offer new soluti...

    • Recruiter: Helmet Integrated Systems / Gentex Corporation

    Apply for this job

  • Smart Grid Research Engineer

    Premium job

    University of Strathclyde
    • Cumbernauld, Glasgow
    • Grade: 6/7* £26,537 - £37,768*

    Work as part of a growing dynamic team on a wide range of technical projects with particular emphasis on experimental validation and testing

    • Recruiter: University of Strathclyde

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Asset Specialist

    Affinity Water
    • Hatfield, Hertfordshire

    Responsible for updating and writing electrical engineering standards, approved codes of practice and safe systems of work

    • Recruiter: Affinity Water

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Electronics Engineer

    York Instruments
    • York, North Yorkshire

    Senior electronics engineer to work as part of a team developing an MEG imaging system; working with the engineering team and external contractors.

    • Recruiter: York Instruments

    Apply for this job

  • Manufacturing Engineer - Circuit Card Assembly

    • Lostock Junction
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What’s the opportunity?   Manufacturing UK is an integral part of the Operations Directorate whose principal mission is to ensure that MBDA’s deliverable commitments are met...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • High Voltage Engineer

    Premium job

    Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment
    • Great Dunmow, Essex

    This High Voltage Engineer will provide design leadership for high voltage cable assemblies up to one megavolt.

    • Recruiter: Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment

    Apply for this job

  • Team Leader - Flank Arrays

    BAE Systems
    • Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria, England
    • Negotiable

    Team Leader - Flank Arrays Would you like to work in a unique role within the construction of the Astute Class submarines? We currently have a vacancy for a Team Leader - Flank Arrays at our site in Barrow-in-Furness. As a Team Leader - Flank Arrays, you

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Electronics and Software Engineer

    Copley Scientific Ltd
    • Nottingham
    • circa £35,000 per annum + bonus

    Develop new test equipment for the pharmaceutical industry. Good opportunities to grow and develop. Successful family-owned and managed business.

    • Recruiter: Copley Scientific Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Bridge Test Facility Manager

    BAE Systems
    • Shropshire, Telford, England
    • Negotiable

    Bridge Test Facility ManagerWe currently have a vacancy for a Bridge Test Facility Manager at our site in Telford with our Land UK business.As the Bridge Test Facility Manager, you will be part of our Test & Trials team, working closely with the Mili

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Maintenance Electrician – Water Utilities

    United Utilities
    • Workington, Cumbria
    • Competitive salary + bonus & great benefits       

    A wide-ranging Maintenance Electrician role with United Utilities, serving millions in the North West.

    • Recruiter: United Utilities

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶


Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T