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This free course, Biofuels, investigates what is meant by a biofuel and covers the advantages of using biofuels compared with fossil fuels. The different types of biofuel are explored, with particular emphasis on transport biofuels. Finally, the issue of whether biofuels are the complete answer to our future energy needs is considered.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of some of the basic facts, language, concepts and principles relating to plants, in particular the composition and properties of plants and the different ways in which plant products have been utilised by humans
  • demonstrate an understanding of the contribution that science can make to informed debate on issues arising from the use of plants and the threats posed to plants and their habitats
  • make sense of information presented in different ways, including textual, numerical, graphical, multimedia and web-based material.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 5 hours
  • Updated Monday 21st March 2016
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Science
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This course looks at biofuels, which are sources of energy that come from material that was recently living. This energy is derived from the process of photosynthesis where the plant uses the energy from sunlight to allow it to take carbon dioxide gas from the atmosphere and convert it into sugars and into the carbon containing structures within the plant. These structures can, for instance, be burned to release the energy they contain. Therefore, burning a biofuel releases carbon dioxide that was trapped only a few years beforehand and so is said to be 'carbon neutral', whereas burning a fossil fuel releases both the energy and carbon dioxide that was trapped millions of year before and can lead to global warming. Wood and certain types of grass can be used as biofuels. Plants that contain large amounts of sugar or oil can be used to produce bioethanol or biodiesel, which are important transport biofuels.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 1 study in Science [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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