Soybeans As an Energy Feedstock

Nature doesn't waste anything. Why should we?
Make biodiesel and create a scale model of an anaerobic digester, while investigating bioenergy and how it is produced.

Lessons

Some of these lessons were created in partnership with The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology.

Teacher background

Bioenergy is a kind of renewable energy made available by converting one form of chemical energy, from a biological source, to a more usable energy. Typical biomass includes agricultural wastes, municipal sewage and solid waste, industrial and forestry wastes, animal manure and crop residues. The energy harvested from these resources can be converted into fuels such as biogas, biodiesel, and bioethanol. Because bioenergy comes from renewable sources, it will never run out. It presents a possibility for a sustainable way of providing fuel for a community. Bioenergy production yields little or no chemical pollutants, so it has minimal impact on the environment. Growing more biomass for bioenergy and consuming less fossil fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, bioenergy is usually more reliable than solar or wind energy since the energy is captured and stored in the bioenergy itself, while solar and wind energy must be stored within other media. In addition, bioenergy can be produced using organic waste material that would otherwise have to be discarded. Using organic waste to produce energy not only produces renewable energy, it reduces the cost of disposing the waste and reduces or eliminates the need for landfill of the waste. In Sweden, where anaerobic digestion is in full operation, there are no landfills.

Curriculum author

Andrea Harpen

Chemistry and Physics Teacher at Blanchester High School at Blanchester High School.

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