bio·​fu·​el | \ ˌbi-(ˌ)ō-ˈfyü(-ə)l How to pronounce biofuel (audio) \

Definition of biofuel

: a fuel (such as wood or ethanol) composed of or produced from biological raw materials — compare fossil fuel

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Since the early 19th century, "fossil fuel" has been used to refer to fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas which are formed from the remains of plants and animals which have lain in the earth for millions of years. In the 1970s, a new word, "biofuel," began to be used to describe a different kind of fuel, one taken from more contemporary organic matter. These fuels include ethanol, which can be derived from such products as corn and sugarcane, and biodiesel, which can be formed from vegetable oils. These organic sources are reflected in the prefix, bio-, meaning "life" or "living organisms or tissue." The prefix bio- was borrowed from the Greek bios, meaning "mode of life."

Examples of biofuel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Though advocates had sought aid for ethanol producers, the package doesn’t include any assistance for biofuels, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a conference call with reporters. Mike Dorning,, "Trump Announces a $19 Billion Bailout for Ailing Farmers," 10 May 2020 Several ship operators in Europe and Japan are testing new propulsion systems that run on biofuels, ammonia, hydrogen and batteries, among others. Costas Paris, WSJ, "Report Puts $1 Trillion Price Tag on Cutting Ship Carbon Emissions," 21 Jan. 2020 The algae can also be used as biofuel, and when fed to cows dramatically cuts planet-warming methane emissions from their burps. Maurice Roper, National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 30 Apr. 2020 In response to criticism, airlines have stepped up carbon offsets — investing in projects to reduce climate-changing pollution — and flown a few flights with biofuels. Washington Post, "Happy contrails ... Delta sees strong 2020 profit, revenue," 12 Dec. 2019 Previous Trump administration decisions on biofuel policy have been upended amid fierce lobbying. Jennifer Jacobs,, "Trump to Pare Biofuel Waivers for Refineries on Court Ruling," 10 May 2020 The announcement reflects Trump's challenges pleasing both the corn and oil industries, two key political constituencies ahead of next year's presidential election that have repeatedly clashed over U.S. biofuel policies. Washington Post, "France, U.S. to lead global digital tax effort," 30 Aug. 2019 The new goal requires 20% of Oregon’s transportation fuels to come from clean sources, including biofuels, electricity, natural gas, and propane, by 2030 and 25% by 2035. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Trump's 'art of the deal' skills tested by oil price war," 11 Mar. 2020 Low-carbon alternatives in aviation are theoretically possible but could be decades away, requiring substantial investment for research and development to make biofuels or electric planes, for instance, functional and scalable. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "An Airline Bailout Should Have More Strings Attached Than a Harp," 11 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'biofuel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of biofuel

1974, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of biofuel was in 1974

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Cite this Entry

“Biofuel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on biofuel

Nglish: Translation of biofuel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of biofuel for Arabic Speakers

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