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Follow us while we explore the possibilities biotechnology can bring to our lives and the innovators making an impact in the industry in a series of 5 blogs.

When we think about fuels, the first thing that comes to mind is gasoline. That makes sense, considering most cars still run on it. However, surprisingly enough, other types of fuels, biofuels, have been around since the start of the 20th century. And Henry Ford even planned to fuel his Model Ts with ethanol, and early diesel engines were shown to run on peanut oil.

But what exactly are biofuels? They are alternative fuels made from plant and plant-derived resources. There are two main types of biofuels: bioethanol and biodiesel. These are made from renewable sources, unlike fossil fuels, who are made from decomposed plants and animals.

Bioethanol, the principal fuel used as a substitute for petrol for road transport vehicles, is mainly produced by the sugar fermentation process of cellulose (starch), mostly derived from maize and sugar cane. Biodiesel, on the other hand, is mainly produced from oil crops such as rapeseed, palm, and soybean (most common biofuel in Europe).

However, although these are renewable sources of fuel, they can also be problematic. The process of growing the crops, making fertilizers and pesticides, and processing the plants into fuel consumes a lot of energy. It’s so much energy that there is debate about whether ethanol from corn actually provides more energy than is required to grow and process it. Also, because much of the energy used in production comes from coal and natural gas, biofuels don’t replace as much oil as they use.

As part of the European Commission report, all member countries have agreed to have at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020. In order to achieve this goal, the best solution is to turn to innovators.


There are some extremely innovative solutions out there, that are aimed at reducing the pitfalls of the traditional biofuels and finding ways to generate energy that is as clean as possible.

For example, BlueBenu. They are developing a disruptive solution that allows the conversion of marine plastic debris into eco-fuel for the shipping industry. Their conversion process deploys pro-environmental actions by converting the plastic into eco-fuel, using a clean, controlled, and smart technology with a zero-waste approach. Pretty cool, right?

There is also bioo, who is obtaining electricity from plants’ photosynthesis. Their technology is based on a biological engine which obtains energy from the decomposition of organic substances naturally released by plants, liberating electrons and H2O in the process. No living organism is harmed.

The opportunity

If you are working with food biotechnology, or know a startup or innovator working with this, then be sure to let them know about this opportunity to be part of a validation lab.

YES!Delft, Biotech Campus Delft, and its main stakeholder Royal DSM, are looking for innovative startups, solutions or ideas within the biotechnology sector that are working on creating the future of a circular bio-based economy. They are offering a validation lab for biotechnology startups, especially those working with enzymes and food.

Check out our blogs about food biotechnology and biomaterials.