Saturday, September 6, 2008

Perception and facts regarding biofuel

Biofuel has been gaining attention in the press recently as an alternative to fossil fuels. However, when one reads the news regarding biofuels, it is likely that person will come to the conclusion that it may not be such a good thing after all. This is because news such as the increase of food prices leading to food crises in the poorer countries as a result of the production of biofuel has been dominating headlines. Thus not a lot of people may know about the many advantages it has over fossil fuels.

There are some main advantages of using biofuel. The usage of biofuel will not contribute to carbon emissions as compared to fossil fuels. As we all know, carbon emissions leads to global warming and this can bring on other problems such as increasing sea levels and rising temperatures. Thus, the usage of biofuel will help to protect our environment. Moreover, it is a renewable resource. Biofuel is derived mainly from plant corps and plant corps can be replanted seasonally while fossil fuel is a finite resource. Thus this can help to alleviate the energy problem.

With regards to the problem of biofuel contributing to higher food prices, this can be solved by using the newer generations of biofuel. The problem was caused by the first generation of biofuel which uses food corps such as corn, sugarcane and maize. Since part of the food corps were used for biofuel, there were less food corps being made available for food supply which led to an increase in food prices. The newer generations of biofuel do not use food corps to produce biofuel thus this problem can be eliminated.

Given the increasing importance of biofuel, it will be important for students to know the facts about biofuel so that they can make informed decisions in the future. So do the students know enough about biofuel and what is their perception toward it ?

Hypothesis: NUS students do not possess enough knowledge about biofuel and their perception towards it has been negative.

Problem Statement: The objective of this research study is to determine how well students in NUS know about biofuel, their perception towards it and the factors that affects their perception.

Purpose Statement: The objective of this research study is to gather the results obtained from the survey and to forward them to the Energy Market Authority and the Economic Development Board. This is done so that they can be informed of the amount of knowledge that students possess regarding biofuel and their perception towards it. Biofuel has been identified as one of the the growing industries that Singapore will be committed to investing in due to the potential and the opportunities being offered. As such, this industry will require a lot of highly-qualified personnels. Thus there will be a need to attract talented students to join the industry. If the perception of the students towards biofuel is negative due to their lack of knowledge, this industry will have difficulties in attracting students. This research study will help to identify if this problem do exist.

Reason for conducting a survey: Doing a survey will be the best method to assess the knowledge the students possess and their perception towards biofuel. This is because questions can be asked in the survey and through this, we will be able to find out the exact reasons that affect their perception.


Brad Blackstone said...

Thanks, Wei Kwan.

So what would your main research question be? And how could you position this topic within a problem statement?

weiren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
weiren said...

Hi Wei Kwan,

Biofuel is indeed a more renewable form of power for our oil-hungry society. However, recent news has scandalized the methods of producing biofuel.

Large area of land are cleared through slash and burn method for production of biofuel crops. This in fact contribute more carbon dioxide to the environment! As such, the initial contribution of carbon dioxide plus the gaseous carbon emission as fuel outweighs the amount of carbon dioxide taken in as a crop.

Unless we can consider aquaponics, or similarly scale without the need of clearing more land, biofuel will not be considered environmental friendly in the short to mid terms.


Hui Xuan said...

Hi Wei Kwan,

I think this is a very interesting topic. Recently, there has been quite a number of news on biofuel. Since this is a new source of alternative energy, there are so many prospects for it.

Hui Xuan said...

Hi Weiren,

I do agree with you that the clearing of land via burning do contribute greatly to the carbon dioxide content in the environment. However, I feel that if we could exploited the 2nd and 3rd generation of biofuel, we could greatly prevent that from happening. It may be a little too early to talk about the 3rd generation of biofuel now, but I feel that it has a great prospect.

Like what Wei Kwan mention, the 2nd generation of biofuel, makes use of non-food crop. Hence, we do not have to clear lands solely for the purpose of producing crops for biofuel. Furthermore, the use of waste parts from the crops can in fact help reduce waste too.

For the 3rd generation biofuel, I feel that it is more environmental friendly as we can grow algae anywhere. We could even grow them on the roof top. Hence, we do not need to clear any land for it.

Wei Kwan said...

Dear Brad,

I have edited the blog post and have now included the research question and the problem statement :)

Wei Kwan said...

Dear Weiren,

I agree with what you said. It seems like I need to do more research regarding biofuel. Over the long run, biofuel should emit have less carbon emissions as compared to fossil fuels since the initial carbon emissions is due to the clearing of land and this is only done once.

weiren said...

Hi Hui Xuan,

I certainly feel that 3rd generation biofuel is worth exploring. To exploit algae for fuel is not only economical, but much greener compared to crop plants used in earlier generations.