The first generation biofuels refer to the fuels that have been derived from sources like starch, sugar, animal fats and vegetable oil. The oil is obtained using the conventional techniques of production. Some of the most popular types of first generation biofuels are:
Biodiesel: This is the most common type of biofuel commonly used in the European countries. This type of biofuel is mainly produced using a process called transesterification. This fuel if very similar to the mineral diesel and is chemically known as fatty acid methyl. This oil is produced after mixing the biomass with methanol and sodium hydroxide. The chemical reaction thereof produces biodiesel. Biodiesel is very commonly used for the various diesel engines after mixing up with mineral diesel. Now in many countries the manufacturers of the diesel engine ensure that the engine works well even with the biodiesel.
Vegetable oil: These kinds of oil can be either used for cooking purpose or even as fuel. The main fact that determines the usage of this oil is the quality. The oil with good quality is generally used for cooking purpose. Vegetable oil can even be used in most of the old diesel engines, but only in warm atmosphere. In most of the countries, vegetable oil is mainly used for the production of biodiesel.
Biogas: Biogas is mainly produced after the anaerobic digestion of the organic materials. Biogas can also be produced with the biodegradation of waste materials which are fed into anaerobic digesters which yields biogas. The residue or the by product can be easily used as manure or fertilizers for agricultural use. The biogas produced is very rich in methane which can be easily recovered through the use of mechanical biological treatment systems. A less clean form of biogas is the landfill gas which is produced by the use of naturally occurring anaerobic digesters, but the main threat is that these gases can be a severe threat if escapes into the atmosphere.
Bioalcohols: These are alcohols produced by the use if enzymes and micro organisms through the process of fermentation of starches and sugar. Ethanol is the most common type of bioalcohol whereas butanol and propanol are some of the lesser known ones. Biobutanol is sometimes also referred to as a direct replacement of gasoline because it can be directly used in the various gasoline engines. Butanol is produced using the process of ABE fermentation, and some of the experiments have also proved that butanol is a more energy efficient fuel and can be directly used in the various gasoline engines.
Syngas: This is a gas that is produce after the combined process of gasification, combustion and pyrolysis. Biofuel used in this process is converted into carbon monoxide and then into energy by pyrolysis. During the process, very little oxygen is supplied to keep combustion under control. In the last step known as gasification the organic materials are converted into gases like carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The resulting gas Syngas can be used for various purposes.