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Potential hazards associated with combustion of bio-derived versus petroleum-derived diesel fuel

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      Fuels from renewable resources have gained worldwide interest due to limited fossil oil sources and the possible reduction of atmospheric greenhouse gas. One of these fuels is so called biodiesel produced from vegetable oil by transesterification into fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). To get a first insight into changes of health hazards from diesel engine emissions (DEE) by use of biodiesel scientific studies were reviewed which compared the combustion of FAME with common diesel fuel (DF) for legally regulated and non-regulated emissions as well as for toxic effects. A total number of 62 publications on chemical analyses of DEE and 18 toxicological in vitro studies were identified meeting the criteria. In addition, a very small number of human studies and animal experiments were available. In most studies, combustion of biodiesel reduces legally regulated emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter. Nitrogen oxides are regularly increased. Among the non-regulated emissions aldehydes are increased, while polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are lowered. Most biological in vitro assays show a stronger cytotoxicity of biodiesel exhaust and the animal experiments reveal stronger irritant effects. Both findings are possibly caused by the higher content of nitrogen oxides and aldehydes in biodiesel exhaust. The lower content of PAH is reflected by a weaker mutagenicity compared to DF exhaust. However, recent studies show a very low mutagenicity of DF exhaust as well, probably caused by elimination of sulfur in present DF qualities and the use of new technology diesel engines. Combustion of vegetable oil (VO) in common diesel engines causes a strongly enhanced mutagenicity of the exhaust despite nearly unchanged regulated emissions. The newly developed fuel “hydrotreated vegetable oil” (HVO) seems to be promising. HVO has physical and chemical advantages compared to FAME. Preliminary results show lower regulated and non-regulated emissions and a decreased mutagenicity.

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      The path forward for biofuels and biomaterials.

      Biomass represents an abundant carbon-neutral renewable resource for the production of bioenergy and biomaterials, and its enhanced use would address several societal needs. Advances in genetics, biotechnology, process chemistry, and engineering are leading to a new manufacturing concept for converting renewable biomass to valuable fuels and products, generally referred to as the biorefinery. The integration of agroenergy crops and biorefinery manufacturing technologies offers the potential for the development of sustainable biopower and biomaterials that will lead to a new manufacturing paradigm.
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        Environmental, economic, and energetic costs and benefits of biodiesel and ethanol biofuels.

        Negative environmental consequences of fossil fuels and concerns about petroleum supplies have spurred the search for renewable transportation biofuels. To be a viable alternative, a biofuel should provide a net energy gain, have environmental benefits, be economically competitive, and be producible in large quantities without reducing food supplies. We use these criteria to evaluate, through life-cycle accounting, ethanol from corn grain and biodiesel from soybeans. Ethanol yields 25% more energy than the energy invested in its production, whereas biodiesel yields 93% more. Compared with ethanol, biodiesel releases just 1.0%, 8.3%, and 13% of the agricultural nitrogen, phosphorus, and pesticide pollutants, respectively, per net energy gain. Relative to the fossil fuels they displace, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced 12% by the production and combustion of ethanol and 41% by biodiesel. Biodiesel also releases less air pollutants per net energy gain than ethanol. These advantages of biodiesel over ethanol come from lower agricultural inputs and more efficient conversion of feedstocks to fuel. Neither biofuel can replace much petroleum without impacting food supplies. Even dedicating all U.S. corn and soybean production to biofuels would meet only 12% of gasoline demand and 6% of diesel demand. Until recent increases in petroleum prices, high production costs made biofuels unprofitable without subsidies. Biodiesel provides sufficient environmental advantages to merit subsidy. Transportation biofuels such as synfuel hydrocarbons or cellulosic ethanol, if produced from low-input biomass grown on agriculturally marginal land or from waste biomass, could provide much greater supplies and environmental benefits than food-based biofuels.
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          Methods for detecting carcinogens and mutagens with the Salmonella/mammalian-microsome mutagenicity test.


            Author and article information

            [1 ]Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-University Bochum (IPA), Bochum, Germany
            [2 ]Coburg University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Coburg, Germany
            [3 ]Institute of Agricultural Technology and Biosystems Engineering, Johann Heinrich von Tünen Institute, Braunschweig, Germany
            Author notes
            Address for Correspondence: Jürgen Bünger, Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-University Bochum (IPA), Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789 Bochum, Germany. Tel.: +492343024556. E-mail: buenger@
            Crit Rev Toxicol
            Crit. Rev. Toxicol
            Critical Reviews in Toxicology
            Informa Healthcare
            October 2012
            8 August 2012
            : 42
            : 9
            : 732-750
            © 2012 Informa Healthcare USA, Inc.

            This is an open access article distributed under the Supplemental Terms and Conditions for iOpenAccess articles published in Informa Healthcare journals , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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