Difference Between Biofuel and Fossil Fuel

Biofuel vs Fossil Fuel

The most obvious and the fundamental difference between biofuel and fossil fuel is that the first is a renewable energy source while the latter is a non-renewable energy source. However, before delving further into the difference between biofuel and fossil fuel, let us first look at each fuel separately. Fossil fuel is something we have been using for a very long time, but biofuel gained popularity relatively late. The reason for the interest in biofuel is this. The demand for energy requirement is increasingly growing day by day. It is difficult to reach the world energy demand only by using fossil fuel. Therefore, a greater attention is drawn towards alternative energy sources. Biofuel is one of the most alternative energy sources, which can be used to satisfy our energy requirement. Having said that, let us move into a detail description of biofuel and fossil fuel, how they both contribute to meet our energy demand, and then compare both to understand the differences between these two energy sources.

What is Fossil Fuel?

Fossil fuel has played a major role in the development of modern industrial sector. Before the industrialization (around 200 – 300 years ago), people mainly used renewable energy sources to achieve the energy demand. For example, they used wood for heat and the wind power for sailing. But, in the modern world, energy demand is extremely high, and people are highly dependent on fossil fuels.

Difference Between Biofuel and Fossil Fuel - Coal a Fossil Fuel


Since the available fossil fuel deposits are very less compared to the world energy demand, the whole world is at a risk. In fact, the consumption rate is very much higher than its generation rate. It takes millions of years to complete the process of generating fossil fuels in the earth.

Categories of fossil fuels

Coal: It is the most abundant fossil fuel. Coal can be found in various forms: hard, shiny, black, and rock-like with a high energy content.

Petroleum: It is a thick, viscous, highly flammable black liquid. Petroleum is a mixture of hydrocarbons. It can be refined to get each component separately. Those products include gasoline, propane gas, lubricating oils and tar.

Natural gas: Methane is the main component in natural gas. It can be found in areas where petroleum is extracted. Natural gas is mostly used for residential heating needs in cold days. It contributes less to air pollution compared to coal and petroleum.

What is Biofuel?

Biofuel refers to solid, liquid, or gaseous fuel consisting of or derived from biomass, which are recently living organisms or their metabolic byproducts such as manure from cows. Fossil fuel is also derived from the dead biological materials, but the process takes a long period. The original source for biofuels comes from the sunlight. It stores in plants through the process of photosynthesis. There are various plants and plants derived materials used in biofuel production; sugar cane crops, wood and its byproducts, waste materials including agriculture, household, industry, and forestry are some examples. Bioethanol is a common example of biofuel. Bioethanol is produced by the process called ‘fermentation’.

Difference Between Biofuel and Fossil Fuel - What is biofuel

A car powered with biofuel.

The production of biofuel can be varied from small scale to large scale. This can be used to overcome the rising oil price by minimizing the dependency on fossil fuels.

What is the difference between Biofuel and Fossil Fuel?

• It takes millions of years to generate fossil fuel in the earth but regeneration of biofuel is a very short period.

• Fossil fuel is a non-renewable energy source whereas biofuel is a renewable energy source.

• Using fossil fuel pollutes the environment in many ways, but the consumption of biofuel is an environmental friendly concept.

• We cannot produce fossil fuel; it has to be generated naturally. But we can easily produce biofuel , varying from small scale to large scale.

• Health hazards of fossil fuels are very high, biofuel causes fe wer problems to our health.

• The contribution of fossil fuel for the world energy demand is very high while that of biofuel is relatively low.


Biofuel vs Fossil Fuel

The world energy demand has been increasing drastically during the last 2-3 decades. Fossil fuel is considerably depleting and greater attention has been drawn to find alternative energy sources. Biofuel is an alternative renewable energy source produced from living organisms. It can be produced in solid, gas or liquid form. Today, burning of fossil fuel creates many environmental problems, but biofuel is an environment friendly energy source.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Coal via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Biofuel powered car by Luftfahrrad (CC BY-SA 3.0)