When we speak of “advanced biofuels”, we are referring to second generation biofuels – as opposed to first generation biofuels. First generation biofuels are generally made from food crops like virgin vegetable oils (soybean oil, canola oil, etc.) or sugar cane. Although there are exceptions, advanced biofuels are not generally derived from food crops, which sometimes makes them a more attractive option. These second generation biofuels are primarily derived from different types of biomasses like woody crops, agricultural residues or a variety of different types of waste. There are exceptions to the idea that food crops only produce first generation feedstocks. When a food crop has already fulfilled its food purpose, it can become the feedstock of a second generation biofuel. A good example of this is waste vegetable oil. WVO produces a second generation biofuel, being made from something that has already been used and is no longer fit for human consumption.
As a general rule, first generation biofuels are very easily extracted, using conventional technologies. Advanced biofuels, however, are often more difficult to extract and use more complex technologies. This does not mean that second generation biofuels cannot be burned directly. Several second generation biofuels, like switchgrass, are cultivated specifically to act as direct biomass.
Whether attempting to produce a first or second generation biofuel, it is very important to the success of the endeavor to make certain one fully understands the makeup and availability of the feedstock to be used, the processes which will be involved in the extraction of the feedstock and in the conversion of the feedstock to a biofuel, and to have proper expertise and guidance in the project.
At Lee Enterprises Consulting, we have a number of highly qualified first and second generation biofuels experts available to assist you. Feel free to call or email us for more information.