Bio-diesel, bio-ethanol, biogas and other fossil-derived transport fuels

This sector covers:

  1. Biomass-derived fuels
  2. Bioethanol
  3. Biodiesel
  4. Pure plant oil
  5. Biogas

Main policy areas:

  1. The Transport Fuels Obligation
  2. Carbon savings and sustainability of bio-fuel production
  3. Duty levels for  transport fuels
  4. Opportunities for high-blend transport fuels and the vehicles, which use them


The focus of this sector is to facilitate the establishment of an efficient and enduring bio-fuels market. The introduction of an effective transport fuels obligation is therefore a key focus for this sector, which is providing input to the scheme design and procedures for carbon accounting and sustainability assurance. The Association’s unrivalled knowledge and its early work on carbon accounting forms an excellent basis for this work, and a dedicated AEA working group is established to address these issues.


A renewable substitute for gasoline

Bio-ethanol is produced from plants such as maize, wheat, sugarbeet and sugarcane, through a process of fermentation, distillation and dehydration. Brazil is currently the world’s largest producer, with almost half of all fuel used in Brazilian cars being bio-ethanol.

It can be used as a 5% blend with petrol in unmodified engines, but higher blends or use as a direct substitute for petrol require some engine modifications.


This is another alternative to petrol, and is produced from biomass in a similar way to bio-ethanol but with a modified fermentation and distillation process.

Biobutanol has some advantages to bio-ethanol as it can be used as higher blends without engine modification, and can be blended with diesel as well as petrol. It can also be distributed more easily by pipeline as it mixes less easily with water.


Transport biofuels provide not only a largely renewable and sustainable alternative to finite resources of fossil fuels, but are also biodegradeable, non toxic and can provide significant carbon savings compared to fossil fuel.

Biofuels can be used in all vehicles from buses to boats, and require little or no engine modification. Their use could lead to a cut in carbon dioxide emissions of 50-60% compared with fossil fuels. Biofuels can be either liquids or gases.

Liquid biofuels are divide into replacements for fossil petrol or diesel.

Petrol substitutes are known as ‘bioethanol’, and are made by fermenting starches and sugars. Diesel substitutes are from oils – derived from either plants or animals. They can either be used directly, in which case vehicle engines need slight modification (often known as ‘pure plant oil’), or be chemically altered so as to run in engines without modification. This is known as ‘biodiesel’.

Any vehicle that can run on gas can operate on renewable gas – known as ‘biomethane’. Although these vehicles are only a small amount of the current fleet, they are more widely used elsewhere, and a number of new models are due to come onto the market in the next few years.

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