Thursday, July 31, 2008

Korea need biofuel

Oil price is increasing day by day because now oil is going to be drained and our supply is insufficient to use in the future. Many experts are studying about alternative energy and they have found a wide range of fuels. The U.S. Department of Energy administers (EPAct) said “Alternative fuels are biodiesel electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, and propane that are defined by the U.S.A Energy Policy Act of 1992” (n.d, para.1). Moreover, “Several emerging fuels are under development. Many of these fuels are also considered alternative fuels, which are Biobutanol, Biogas, Biomass to Liquids (BTL), Coal to Liquids (CTL), Fischer-Tropsch Diesel, Gas to Liquids (GTL), Hydrogenation-Derived Renewable Diesel (HDRD), P –series, and Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel” (U.S Department of Energy, n.d, para.2). Much alternative energy has problems because they should change net systems to fit for new energy systems, need a lot of money, and require more research and development to be realized as nuclear, coal, dam, and oil systems. However, biofuels are different from other alternative energy, because this fuel can be realized as a source and can give us many benefits. Biofuel is a renewable alternative fuel, and provides energy security, emissions, and safety benefit.

Biofuel can be produced from renewable resource of plant or animal origin. Biofuel has two kinds of material: “Bioethanol is made from sugar and starch products while biodiesel is produced from vegetable oil or animal fats” (The New Zealand Herald, 2007, para.2). Studies tell us that biofuels have positive energy balance: “The US Environment Protection Agency and the Worldwatch Institute highlight that one unit of energy input creates 1.3 units of biofuel energy output using corn, eight units of output using sugar cane and up to 36 units of output using cellulose. This compares with 0.83 units of output for one unit of fossil fuel input, which always has a negative energy balance” (Travers, 2007, para.8). In 2006 about 33 billion liters of biofuels were used around the world (Travers, 2007). Some developed countries are using biofuels and have a plan for vehicles and transportation such as Ireland, which is using biofuels (Travers, 2007), The EU has a plan to replace biofuels more than 10percent of its petrol use with biofuel in 2020 (Mandelson, 2008), and New Zealand will use biofuels for at least 3.4 per cent of total fuel sales by 2012 (The New Zealand Herald, 2007).

Korea is a small country, 98,480 sq km. We do not have oil and import oil from other countries. Korea can farm crops to get biofuels. Korea would no longer have to depend on other countries to import fuels if we could make fuels by ourselves. Biofuel has a lot of benefits. Biofuel is a domestically produced, clean-burning, renewable substitute for oil. Using biofuel improves public health and the environment, and provides safety benefits.

Koreans need biofuels, which could give us many benefits and solve many problems such as environmental, economic and technological problems.

First, environmental pollution, which is kind of big problem in Korea, can be alternated by biofuels. Especially, air pollution is the biggest problem in Seoul, the Korean capital. Many Seoul people have pains because of conservative diseases such as atopy, splenitis, chest complaint etc. I have had atopy since I was 12 years old. This disease has not been healed until now, but when I go to rural areas and the countryside, the atopy could be better and less itchy on the skin. People suffer from atmospheric pollution; “Atopy, which has recently become widespread at a rapid pace around the world, is triggered by allergens in the air or in food” (Kim, 2006, para.2). Current medical technology cannot heal those diseases, which are prevented by fresh and clean air. Bae (2007) writes, “Korean government will also tighten regulation eco-health policy, which aims to curb children’s health problems due to pollution, such as atopy” (para.2). Biofuels offer many environmental advantages when we compare them with fossil fuels. The greenhouse gas emissions of biofuels are up to two thirds less than those of fossil fuels according to Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) (Travers, 2007). John Travers said, “These reductions result in a cleaner environment and help countries meet their Kyoto obligations” (2007, para.5). Biofuel can help sufferers to decrease their pains or cure their problems in Seoul and any other rural areas.

Second, biofuel should give Korea a big competitive edge to improve its economy. Korea earns dollars through exports to the U.S.A, Europe, China, Japan and any other countries. Especially in trade, Korean’s most important countires are America and Europe. However, Europe has built up regulations to import goods, which should be related with friendly environmental factors. Kanter states, “A fierce debate is unfolding about whether industry and European economy can afford higher commitments to pollution-reduction targets” (2007, para.7). For example, if goods are produced through an eco-friendly process, it can be charged less custom duty and have a reduction of tax. That is a big advantage when we compete with other companies and local firms. Europe approves biofuels as eco-friendly fuel and they try to use the biofuel for their major gas. The EU environment commissioner said that they try to improve 10 per cent of its transport fuel from biofuels (Conner, 2008). Biofuel can improve the Korean economy and give Korean companies a competitive advantage.

Finally, biofuel can develop Korean technology to be eco-friendly. Most developed countries prefer eco-friendly technologies, and that is the biggest trend in the world; “Europeans manufacturers have spent far longer working to make their products safer and less hazardous to the environment” (Kaplan, 2007, para.1). In the future Korea will not be able to sell goods if they are not made with an eco-friendly process. Many countries are trying to get advanced environmental technologies, and that will give them big money for the future. Korean’s future economy is engaged in technology because now Korean economic power is high technology, which covers our weakness in lack of natural resources, expensive labor, and small land. Most of the advanced countries study it very hard, and Korea also must catch up in environmental technology with biofuel.

My opponents say biofuel might make new food security risks. Siwa Msangi said, “Strong international policies are needed to stop the biofuel production revolution threatening food security for the poor” (2007, para.1). However, they are wrong, because fuel prices have hit an all time high, and influence food prices. John Travers said, “A recent study by consulting group LECG found that rising energy prices have twice the impact on the consumer price index for food than the price of feedstock used for ethanol” (2007, para.9). Next generation biofuels, which are cellulosic content and algae, are not related with food as wood and grass are. These sources are more efficient and low cost (Travers, 2007). Most of agriculture uses machines, which need fuels. Fuel cost is also a big part of expense for agriculture.

In conclusion, now biofuel technology takes in the advanced technology trend and European countries have started to use biofuel for their transport fuels. Koreans also should try to join in the trend, and that can solve our environmental, economic, and technological problems. Korea needs biofuels technology for our future.


Alina, A. N. (2006, November 8). “Pushing for alternative fuels”. Business World. Retrieved on July 14, 2008 from: this paper

Bae, J. (2007, February 21). Environment managements to be tightened. Korean Times. Retrieved on July 28, 2008 from: this paper

Conner, S. (2008, January 15). Can biofuel help prevent global warming, or will it only make matters worse? The Independent (London). Retrieved on July 14, 2008 from: this paper

Kanter, J. (2007, January 9). Industries fear new EU regulations. The International Herald Tribune. Retrieved on July 28, 2008 from: this paper

Kaplan, J. (2007, December 18). New Eco-Labels: RoHS Changes for 2008. Retrieved on July 30, 2008 from: this paper

Kim, T. (2006, December 5). Causes of Atopy Found. Korea Times. Retrieved on July 28, 2008 from: this paper

Mandelson, P. (2008, April 29). Keeping the crop in hand: By imposing rigorous sustainability standards, we can make a global market in biofuels work. The Guardian (London). Retrieved on July 14, 2008 from: this paper

The New Zealand Herald. (2007, October 15). “Biofuels are coming, ready or not”. Retrieved on July 28, 2008 from: this paper

SciDev. Net. (2007, December 6). “Biofuel Revolution Threatens Food Security for the Poor”. Africa News. Retrieved on July 14, 2008, from: this paper

Travers, J. (2007, December 19). Why using biofuels makes good sense. The Irish Times. Retrieved on July 14, 2008, from: this paper

U.S Department of Energy. (n.d). Biofuel. Retrieved July 29, 2008 from: this paper

1 comment:

La Wahie Biotech do Brasil said...


University of Hawai'i Professor Pengchen "Patrick" Fu developed an innovative technology, to produce high amounts of ethanol with modified cyanobacterias, as a new feedstock for ethanol, without entering in conflict with the food and feed-production .

Fu has developed strains of cyanobacteria — one of the components of pond scum — that feed on atmospheric carbon dioxide, and produce ethanol as a waste product.

He has done it both in his laboratory under fluorescent light and with sunlight on the roof of his building. Sunlight works better, he said.

It has a lot of appeal and potential. Turning waste into something useful is a good thing. And the blue-green-algae needs only sun and wast- recycled from the sugar-cane-industry, to grow and to produce directly more and more ethanol. With this solution, the sugarcane-based ethanol-industry in Brazil and other tropical regions will get a second way, to produce more biocombustible for the worldmarket.

The technique may need adjusting to increase how much ethanol it yields, but it may be a new technology-challenge in the near future.

The process was patented by Fu and UH in January, but there's still plenty of work to do to bring it to a commercial level. The team of Fu foundet just the start-up LA WAHIE BIOTECH INC. with headquarter in Hawaii and branch-office in Brazil.


Fu figures his team is two to three years from being able to build a full-scale
ethanol plant, and they are looking for investors or industry-partners (jointventure).

He is fine-tuning his research to find different strains of blue-green algae that will produce even more ethanol, and that are more tolerant of high levels of ethanol. The system permits, to "harvest" continuously ethanol – using a membrane-system- and to pump than the blue-green-algae-solution in the Photo-Bio-Reactor again.

Fu started out in chemical engineering, and then began the study of biology. He has studied in China, Australia, Japan and the United States, and came to UH in 2002 after a stint as scientist for a private company in California.

He is working also with NASA on the potential of cyanobacteria in future lunar and Mars colonization, and is also proceeding to take his ethanol technology into the marketplace. A business plan using his system, under the name La Wahie Biotech, won third place — and a $5,000 award — in the Business Plan Competition at UH's Shidler College of Business.
Daniel Dean and Donavan Kealoha, both UH law and business students, are Fu's partners. So they are in the process of turning the business plan into an operating business.

The production of ethanol for fuel is one of the nation's and the world's major initiatives, partly because its production takes as much carbon out of the atmosphere as it dumps into the atmosphere. That's different from fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which take stored carbon out of the ground and release it into the atmosphere, for a net increase in greenhouse gas.
Most current and planned ethanol production methods depend on farming, and in the case of corn and sugar, take food crops and divert them into energy.

Fu said crop-based ethanol production is slow and resource-costly. He decided to work with cyanobacteria, some of which convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into their own food and release oxygen as a waste product.

Other scientists also are researching using cyanobacteria to make ethanol, using different strains, but Fu's technique is unique, he said. He inserted genetic material into one type of freshwater cyanobacterium, causing it to produce ethanol as its waste product. It works, and is an amazingly efficient system.

The technology is fairly simple. It involves a photobioreactor, which is a
fancy term for a clear glass or plastic container full of something alive, in which light promotes a biological reaction. Carbon dioxide gas is bubbled through the green mixture of water and cyanobacteria. The liquid is then passed through a specialized membrane that removes the
ethanol, allowing the water, nutrients and cyanobacteria to return to the

Solar energy drives the conversion of the carbon dioxide into ethanol. The partner of Prof. Fu in Brazil in the branch-office of La Wahie Biotech Inc. in Aracaju - Prof. Hans-Jürgen Franke - is developing a low-cost photo-bio-reactor-system. Prof. Franke want´s soon creat a pilot-project with Prof. Fu in Brazil.

The benefit over other techniques of producing ethanol is that this is simple and quick—taking days rather than the months required to grow crops that can be converted to ethanol.

La Wahie Biotech Inc. believes it can be done for significantly less than the cost of gasoline and also less than the cost of ethanol produced through conventional methods.

Also, this system is not a net producer of carbon dioxide: Carbon dioxide released into the environment when ethanol is burned has been withdrawn from the environment during ethanol production. To get the carbon dioxide it needs, the system could even pull the gas out of the emissions of power plants or other carbon dioxide producers. That would prevent carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere, where it has been implicated as a
major cause of global warming.
Honolulo – Hawaii/USA and Aracaju – Sergipe/Brasil - 15/09/2008

Prof. Pengcheng Fu – E-Mail:
Prof. Hans-Jürgen Franke – E-Mail: