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Biofuels/Biodiesel Technology and Product Development Managers


Organic materials that can be converted to energy have been around since early days. Aquatic plants, wood, corn and soy, as well as animal fats and waste are examples of biofuels. Cavemen used wood to create fires for cooking food, heating homes, and providing light. In the late 1800s, Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the diesel-fueled engineer, introduced a peanut-oil powered engine. Henry Ford picked up from there and designed his Model T in the early 1900s to run on biofuel derived from hemp. Petroleum was a more efficient fuel, however, and biofuels were in abundance at the time, so interest in exploring the use of alternative energy sources faded.

Fuel shortages later in the 20th century renewed the drive to explore biofuels and biodiesel. For instance, during the Second World War, the Germans addressed acute fuel shortages by using potatoes and wood as substitutes for ethanol and methanol. The U.S. fuel crisis in the 1970s raised the awareness that America was relying too heavily on foreign sources for oil. In the years leading up to the crisis, oil imports from the Middle East had grown while U.S. domestic oil production diminished. The fuel shortage happened when Middle-Eastern countries blocked exports of petroleum to Western countries and the Netherlands in protest of foreign involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflicts.

In the years since the U.S. fuel crisis, there has been an increase in research and development of biofuels and biodiesel. Environmental rules have tightened over the years, mandating that fuels burn cleaner than in the past and have less impact on the environment. Scientists, engineers, and technology and product development managers continue to research and test organic materials as alternative sources for fuel and energy.

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