# Why is burning biofuel in car engines carbon neutral compared to burning gasoline from oil?

Feb 12, 2017

The burning of biofuel is SUPPOSED to be carbon neutral.

#### Explanation:

Ethyl alcohol may be derived from oxidation of sugars and cellulose; the fermentation of sugar to give ethyl alcohol may be represented in the balanced equation:

${C}_{6} {H}_{12} {O}_{6} \rightarrow 2 {C}_{2} {H}_{5} O H \left(l\right) + 2 C {O}_{2} \left(g\right) \uparrow$

Because the sugar derives from green plants, which use solar energy to fix carbon dioxide, the carbon dioxide released to the environment represents only a marginal increase in carbon dioxide concentrations.

Of course, the machinery used to harvest the sugar cane (or what have you), and the material used to fertilize your next crop, represents a significant energy expenditure. The amount of arable land is also finite, and less than you would imagine, and a significant proportion of this must be devoted to food production. The use of biomass to make alcohols for fuel production is thus not a panacea.