Biofuel types and membrane separation

  • Nasibeh Hajilary
  • Mashallah Rezakazemi
  • Saeed ShirazianEmail author


Global warming induced by greenhouse gases is major issue worldwide. There is therefore a need to develop renewable sources of energy, such as biofuels. Here, we review the various types of biofuels such as biodiesel, bioethanol, biomethane, hydrotreated vegetable oils and fats, and lignocellulosic-based fuels. First, second, and third generations of biofuels are compared in terms of economics, environmental aspects and energy yield. Economically, raw materials account for 60–75% of the final price of produced biofuels. The high cost of biodiesel compared to the lower price of diesel fuel is a major challenge toward commercializing biodiesel production from vegetable oils. Environmentally, biofuels can reduce carbon emissions and are more biodegradable compared to fossil fuels. For instance, biodiesel and diesel fuels are degraded by 95% and 40%, respectively, during one month in water. Among liquid biofuels, biodiesel has the best energy yield, such that the amount of net biodiesel energy production is more than three times than that of diesel fuel. We also review membrane technologies for the purification and separation of biofuels such as bioethanol, biobutanol, biodiesel, and biogas. Commonly used membrane processes are ultrafiltration, microfiltration, nanofiltration, pervaporation, membrane distillation and reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis is used for water treatment due to the very small pore size of membranes, which allow the water molecules to get through. Membrane bioreactors can be used for wastewater treatment with a combination of ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. Ultrafiltration and nanofiltration membranes have applications in the production of biomass from olive mill wastewaters. Pervaporation and membrane distillation are efficient in the third generation of bioethanol production plants.


Biofuels Biorefinery Bioenergy Membranes Sustainability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Technical and EngineeringGolestan UniversityGorganIran
  2. 2.Faculty of Chemical and Materials EngineeringShahrood University of TechnologyShahroodIran
  3. 3.Department for Management of Science and Technology DevelopmentTon Duc Thang UniversityHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  4. 4.Faculty of Applied SciencesTon Duc Thang UniversityHo Chi Minh CityVietnam

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