Biodiesel is the name of a clean-burning, alternative fuel that is based on the natural oils derived from domestic, renewable resources, such as soy bean crops. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics. For more biodiesel information visit:
National Biodiesel Board: Official website of the National Biodiesel Board
Biogas (AKA “Cow Power”)
Biogas energy is derived from manure and other farm wastes through the use of methane digesters that convert the incoming solid materials into a methane gas. This gas can then be captured and used as a viable source of power. Additionally, methane digesters reduce the green-house gas emissions and odor of livestock-based farms. For more information on biogas, please visit:
USEPA “Commonly Asked Questions”: An United States EPA page dealing with common questions associated with methane digesters.
Sustainable Conservation: environmentally-focused agriculture website with additional materials on biogas.
Ethanol is an alcohol produced from a variety of crops—corn, sorghum, potatoes, wheat, sugar cane, and even cornstalks and vegetable waste—that can be combined with gasoline to create a useable fuel that produces fewer harmful tailpipe emissions while additionally increasing engine octane levels. For more information, please visit:
- Renewable Fuels Association: one of the main industry proponents for ethanol-based fuels in the United States.
- FuelEconomy.gov: The official website of the United States government for information on fuel economy.
- Building an Ethanol Plant in Illinois, created by the Illinois EPA and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.. The guide includes useful information on environmental permit requirements, best management practices, funding opportunities, and other considerations, including information on water and infrastructure access.
- E-85 is a blend of ethanol and gasoline containing 85% ethanol.
Solar energy is derived from sunlight hitting a photovoltaic cell, which reacts to the sun’s rays and generate electricity that may be then be stored for later use. In order to create a larger amount of electricity, a great number of these individual photovoltaic cells are typically laid out on panels, which in turn are often wired together to create a “solar array”. For more information, please visit:
- USDA “Farm Energy Options: Solar”: a list of resources about solar energy, assembled by the United States Department of Agriculture.
- USEPA “A Student’s Guide to Solar Energy”: An educational resource created by the United States Environmental Protection Agency explaining the solar energy process
Wind turbines create electricity when wind blows over the blades of the turbine, which in turn spins a generator. In order to create enough energy to power a populated area, a multitude of wind turbines are placed together, constituting a “wind farm”. For more information, please visit:
- USDA “Farm Energy Options: Wind” Database: A collection of literature pertaining to wind energy compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture
- Union of Concerned Scientists: Brief factsheet covering wind energy