The production of biofuels from biomass is one answer to addressing the shortage of fossil fuels. But how efficient is this process and how should biomass be best utilized?
More than 50 % of the energy required to produce biomass and its conversion to biofuels actually comes from fossil fuels. As such, the production of biofuels is neither particularly efficient nor CO2-neutral. Hartmut Michel (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1988), Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt, Germany, discusses the disadvantages of biofuel production in his Editorial in Angewandte Chemie. He points out that the combination of a photovoltaic cells with an electric battery and an electric engine is more efficient than a biofuel combustion engine as the sun’s energy is more efficiently converted in the former case. And he recommends that biomass should be used as a fuel for heating or in power stations rather than for biofuel production.