Biofuel Crops Could Be Used to Feed Millions

– by James Gilbert, March 31, 2016,


Photo: Greencarereports

Agriculture is being used more than ever to power cars and provide energy. Some University of Virginia professors are saying this is the wrong direction for a new source of energy.

Paolo D’Odorico is a professor of environmental sciences at UVA and says close to 700 million people today could be fed if the biofuel agriculture went toward edible food.

“We use sugar cane or wheat or corn,” said D’Odorico. “Wheat and corn are standard food crops.”

They looked at the percent of biodiesel produced worldwide, and a lot of it would go to cooking oil.

“We deal with vegetable oils that are used for cooking, but you can’t feed everybody by drinking a little bit of palm oil a day,” said D’Odorico.

Regardless, the resources used to grow the oils could be used toward feeding the malnourished.

Nearly all environmental scientists feel that this is a global issue.

“There is a consensus that his is not a good idea or solution to the energy problem,” said D’Odorico.

There are only a few places around Charlottesville where biodiesel is available. This may be because there is a problem with putting a large amount in an engine during a certain time of year.

Charlottesville Area Transit, or CAT, tried biodiesel fuel.

“We had used it for a few years back when the bio portion of the product was still subsidized,” said John Jones, the manager of CAT.

The city stopped putting B20 (20-percent biodiesel) in their diesel when they found problems in colder weather.

“The pour point, which is the point at which it still flows freely through the fuel system and through your filters is about 41 degrees. Once you’re below that, it starts to gel up, it starts to plug your filters and your engine runs bad. We had that issue here,” said Jones.

That was from about 2009 to 2012, and they plan to stick with ultra-low sulfur diesel, which has a less impact on the environment. That is the most common and government regulated diesel available.

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