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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Did You Know?

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

New-energy businesses such as hydrogen and biofuels are seen as financial black holes. The Economist, "Shell’s boss delivers some hard truths on oil and climate change," 4 July 2019 Another semifinalist, Scott Banta, a professor of chemical engineering at Columbia University, proposes a new way to create biofuels that mimics biological processes at the molecular level. Katie Camero, Science | AAAS, "What big ideas will shape U.S. science over the next decade? Here are some contenders," 20 June 2019 An official says the operation 33 feet below the surface could potentially farm limu in quantities large enough for use as animal feed and biofuel. USA TODAY, "‘Lorax’ tree legend, butter Elmo, meth squirrel: News from around our 50 states," 19 June 2019 Controlling the balance of microbes in different settings might provide new ways to treat or prevent various illnesses, improve crop productivity or make biofuels. Quanta Magazine, "Simpler Math Tames the Complexity of Microbe Networks," 19 Jan. 2018 Much of the gasoline in the United States contains one of the most common biofuels: ethanol. National Geographic, "Biofuels, explained," 15 July 2019 Alternate fuels have also gained ground, from hydrogen fuels to biofuels, which are now available at a handful of airports but don’t yet offer a price advantage, the IEA says. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "The Newest Threat to Cheap European Flights? A Plan to Finally Tax Jet Fuel," 13 July 2019 Departing from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for LAX on a tankful of aviation biofuel, Flight 310, a.k.a. Jasmin Malik Chua, Vox, "The best $3,000 I ever spent: training for my unruly dog," 9 July 2019 Two nations, Indonesia and Malaysia, provide the world with more than 80 percent of the palm oil used in everything from biofuel and cooking oil to lipstick and chocolate. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "One Casualty of the Palm Oil Industry: An Orangutan Mother, Shot 74 Times," 29 June 2019

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

8 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for biofuel

The first known use of biofuel was in 1974

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More from Merriam-Webster on biofuel

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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