Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course




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)]


Take your learning further371

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses372.

If you are new to university level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. Find out Where to take your learning next?373 You could either choose to start with an Access courses374or an open box module, which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.

Not ready for University study then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn375 and sign up to our newsletter376 to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371