Published: Jan 2011
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As crude oil stocks around the world slowly dwindle and the prices of crude oil and gasoline at the pump skyrocket, serious attention is being given to developing alternative fuels for the internal combustion engines. The more prominent among these alternative fuels is one derived from biomass, which a majority of oil-consuming countries have an abundance of. Whether biofuels will truly deliver the consumers from dependence on foreign oils is a matter of debate. The United States went through a similar scenario in the 1980s after Arab oil embargos, when concentrated efforts were dedicated by all major oil companies and nations to produce synthetic oil from coal and oil shale. Although technically successful, those efforts came to nothing when the crude oil price tumbled to about $5 a barrel in 1985 and all research and development efforts on synthetic fuels were abandoned. But at least at the moment, with encouragement from state and federal governments, a big push is on the way to commercialize biofuels. Worldwide investment in biofuels rose from $5 billion in 1995 to $38 billion in 2005 and is expected to top $100 billion by 2010. ASTM International is working toward standardizing or developing test methods for the characterization of these biofuels and biolubes.
Nadkarni, R. A. Kishore
Millennium Analytics, Inc., East Brunswick, NJ