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 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Electrician

    The Bristol Port Company
    • City of Bristol
    • C. £31,729 per annum plus supplements, benefits and overtime

    You’re a good team worker with a strong technical capacity – so bring your talents to a new role with one of the area’s leading employers.

    • Recruiter: The Bristol Port Company

    Apply for this job

  • Supply Restoration Team Manager (HV/SAP)

    • Oxford, Oxfordshire
    • Salary: £37,588 to £49,645 + Car (SSE8) Depending on skills and experience

    SSE is looking to recruit a Supply Restoration Team Manager to join our existing team in Oxford.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Technical Lead - Global Operations, Engineering & Laboratory

    Pfizer Ltd
    • Kent

    An exciting opportunity has arisen to join a dynamic team of professional engineers, supporting the development of novel drugs.

    • Recruiter: Pfizer Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Supply Restoration Team Manager (HV/SAP)

    • Oxfordshire
    • Salary: £37,588 to £49,645 + Car (SSE8) Depending on skills and experience

    SSE is looking to recruit a Supply Restoration Team Manager into our office in Oxford.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Electronics & Control Systems Engineer

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Glasgow, Plymouth, Warrington
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    We are seeking talented Electronics Engineers at all career levels.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Control and Instrumentation Engineers

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Glasgow, Gloucester
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    Frazer-Nash is currently embarking on a period of significant growth of our electrical, electronics, control and instrumentation capability.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Engineer

    Gridpower Ltd
    • Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear

    Co-ordination of all project design deliverables and the leadership of a project team to deliver overall project[s] Right First Time

    • Recruiter: Gridpower Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Technician

    National Grid
    • England, Lancashire
    • £29000 - £34000 per year

    Electrical Technician - Gas Transmission - Ref. 11206Salary: £29k - £34k, call-out and standby allowance plus job requirement vehicleLocation: Nether Kellet Compressor Station (LA6 1HD), Lancashire National Grid plc is the operator of the GB gas transmiss

    • Recruiter: National Grid

    Apply for this job

  • Engineering Officer

    Royal Air Force
    • Nationwide
    • £30k pay after initial training + £10k Golden Hello

    Responsible for the optimum performance of all RAF technology, and specialise in either Aerosystems or Communications Electronics.

    • Recruiter: Royal Air Force

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Systems Engineer

    Strainstall Marine
    • Cowes, Isle of Wight
    • Competitive + Benefits

    Oversee all aspects of electronic & systems engineering, manufacturing, test engineering and hardware support activities

    • Recruiter: Strainstall Marine

    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