Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 12:12 UK

Shell sells straw-based biofuel

Shell tank getting filled
The biofuel is made from straw and renewable sources such as corn stalks

Royal Dutch Shell is selling a biofuel made from straw at one of their service stations in Canada.

The station in Ottawa will sell a blend of cellulosic ethanol and petrol.

Biofuels have been hailed as a way to fight climate change, but have also been criticised for their potential impact on food stocks and prices.

This biofuel, however, is made from a non-food portions of crops, such as corn stalks and corn cobs, which are renewable, according to Shell.

Such so-called "second-generation" biofuels do not compete with food sources for land - unlike some current biofuels, which are made from the edible parts of crops such as corn or sugar cane.

Biofuel emissions

In principle, biofuels are a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional transport fuels such as petrol and diesel.

Burning the fuels releases CO2; but growing the plants absorbs a comparable amount of the gas from the atmosphere.

Shell claims that the straw biofuel can offer 90% less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as compared to petrol.

However, the method of production is also important. Farming and processing the crops can make biofuels as polluting as petroleum-based fuels, depending on what is grown and how it is treated.

The UK Government has said that by 2010 5% all fuel should come from biofuels.

The European Union has gone further, setting a target of 10% by 2020.

Print Sponsor

Firms hope green goals boost profits
18 May 09 |  Business
America plays cleantech catch up
25 Feb 09 |  Technology
27m boost for biofuel research
27 Jan 09 |  Tayside and Central
Biofuel project uses tall grass
27 Jan 09 |  Mid Wales
UK gets biofuels research centre
27 Jan 09 |  Science & Environment

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific