bio·fu·el | \ˌbi-(ˌ)ō-ˈfyü(-ə)l \

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

The ongoing debate over biofuel policy could be what ultimately sinks Pruitt. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: Top Park Service official admits he acted inappropriately, but his job appears safe," 29 June 2018 Pruitt’s EPA granted 25 refiners waivers to annual requirements to mix in biofuels on the grounds that the regulation causes these refiners economic hardship. Umair Irfan, Vox, "A right-wing dark money group called on Trump to fire Scott Pruitt," 14 June 2018 That's equal to or cheaper than estimates for biofuels, which were thought to be the most practical method. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Splitting water for fuel while removing CO₂ from the air," 28 June 2018 Even at its projected fuel cost of $1 a liter in the early 2020s, A2F will still be more expensive up front than many biofuels. David Roberts, Vox, "Sucking carbon out of the air won’t solve climate change," 14 June 2018 There was a smart metering piece to that, there was a piece relating to biofuels. Holly Otterbein,, "The Greg Vitali Q&A: Can an environmental bulldog with little cash win a congressional race? | #PA5," 10 May 2018 And biofuels, electric ships and wind assistance can transition fleets to carbon neutrality. Jessica F. Green, Washington Post, "Why do we need new rules on shipping emissions? Well, 90 percent of global trade depends on ships.," 17 Apr. 2018 The President has a commitment to the [biofuels mandate] and ranching and farming communities in this country. James Osborne, Houston Chronicle, "Pruitt looks to stamp out RIN "hoarding," raises possibility of limits on Wall Street," 12 Mar. 2018 Daimler said a function in the onboard diagnostics system prevents overdosing of the AdBlue fluid in nonstandard operating conditions, such as the use of biofuels., "Emissions issues plague Daimler truck engines," 9 July 2018

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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Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

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The first known use of biofuel was in 1974

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