Biofuels

Also known as: Renewable fuels

Biofuels are non-oil based fuels produced from agricultural products (e.g., bioethanol, biodiesel).

Biofuels are typically used as a blendstock in conjunction with conventional oil-based fuel blendstocks to make diesel and gasoline.

The use of biofuels is largely driven by government mandates that require a minimum level of biofuels blending.  

Types of biofuels

There are a variety of different biofuels currently used to satisfy renewable fuels mandates, the most common are:

  • Bioethanol - ethanol produced from agricultural sugars or starch (from corn, sugarcane, beets or wheat) through a fermentation process.  Also small amounts produced from cellulosic feedstocks
  • Biodiesel (FAME) - diesel blendstock produced from vegetable oils or animal fats using a transesterification process.  Yields a diesel blendstock that can be blended in low volumes (typically 5%), limited by cold flow properties
  • Renewable diesel - high-quality diesel blendstock produced from hydroprocessing of vegetable oils or animal fats
  • Bio-ETBE - an ether produced from bioethanol and isobutylene used as a renewable gasoline blendstock, especially in Europe

McKinsey uses cookies to improve site functionality, provide you with a better browsing experience, and to enable our partners to advertise to you. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this Site, and how you can decline them, is provided in our cookie policy. By using this Site or clicking on "OK", you consent to the use of cookies.