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

This research echoes the similar studies of leaf-cutter ants, who are good at breaking down the cellulose in grasses and other potential sources of biofuel. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Gribble Worm Could Hold Secrets for Cheaper Renewable Energy," 5 Dec. 2018 The Renewable Fuels Standard had previously required 26 billion gallons of biofuel to be sold in 2018. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "EPA reconsidering biofuel targets after production goals are missed," 25 Nov. 2018 Her techniques have been recreated with a variety of enzymes with a tremendous number of results, for everything from greener biofuels to neutralizing toxins. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The 2018 Nobels in Chemistry Made Evolution Work For Us," 3 Oct. 2018 While other biofuels can damage motors if they aren’t first blended with fossil fuels, Neste’s product and others like it can be dropped straight into existing engines. Sarah Kent, WSJ, "The Key to Big Profits in Clean Energy: Animal Fats," 14 Aug. 2018 Things like biofuels and industrial capture plants rely on the existence of underground storage infrastructure, which is also behind schedule. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Keeping the world below 2°C of warming needs tech we don’t have," 5 Feb. 2018 Oil industry representatives have cited the January bankruptcy of Philadelphia Energy Solutions Inc., the largest U.S. East Coast oil refiner, as evidence that the biofuel mandate is too costly and changes are needed. Mario Parker,, "Trump Proposes Higher Ethanol Sales, Pledges Help for Refiners," 12 Apr. 2018 The biofuels mandate is a place holder for the kind of cronyism our country can no longer afford. WSJ, "Biofuel Mandates Are Working As Designed," 25 Mar. 2018 Sometimes efforts to reduce pollution can backfire: A 2014 study in São Paulo, Brazil, found that a switch to biofuels in vehicles actually might increase ozone pollution. Dave Levitan, Scientific American, "Ozone Pollution Grows, but It Can Be Fixed," 22 Feb. 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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Statistics for biofuel

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for biofuel

The first known use of biofuel was in 1974

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with biofuel

Nglish: Translation of biofuel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of biofuel for Arabic Speakers

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What made you want to look up biofuel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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