A Brief Description of the Overall System: An Engineering System for Biofuel Railroad Transport System
This paper presents a transport system based on distribution of biofuels. It shall describe how the system fits society as well as the major subsystems that make up the system. The major interfaces between the components of chosen system will be identified alongside the major system boundaries. The immediate wider system and the major interfaces between the wider system and the chosen system are also concerns of this paper. Two major points of failure of the chosen system are identified and the possible impact if such failure occurred.
Biofuels take the center stage in policy debates in view of the forecasted shortages of fossil fuels and the need for new income and employment opportunities. There is currently a worldwide development of the use of biofuels, seen as important policy breakthroughs in many countries. A comprehensive stance for the use of liquid biofuels is now targeted for global action. Not only is the technological potential considered in this concern, but also the sustainable economic potential.
Biofuel is a cheap fuel in the world, compared to other fuels. Its usage in transportation infrastructure needs enhancement for the UK’ biofuel transportation future. Sufficient studies concerning the effective transportation and distribution techniques for biofuel abound to reflect its necessity as a good source of fuel and energy. This paper shall explore transport engineering based on biofuels as a future energy resource.
Biofuel transportation starts at the agricultural fields which include plant production field, gathering point, refinery, storage, retailer, till the end users. Because of this essential process, the transportation and distribution of biofuel is considered important for the delivery of biofuel energy. Network of transportation and distribution system needs optimisation in the usage of the fuel, such as building new pipeline and railroad infrastructures considered to accumulate big portions of the transportation costs due to a required large capital investment.
How the System Fits Society
The usage of biofuels in the transport system as an alternative to the mainstream usage of fossil fuel which is both expensive and is currently in shortage. It fits society in a way that it addresses these concerns of shortage and expensive sources of fuel. Biofuel is cheaper as compared to other fuels, is readily available, and leaves no hazards to the environment, which is the current concern of global policy in terms of sustainable development. Its ready availability is seen in its being produced from fats, biodegradable waste materials, and oils, such as vegetable oil, already used in several diesel engines (Department of Transport 2007). The engineering transport system based on biofuel usage supports the carbon neutrality and reduction of green house emissions, which is the current concern of societies. The average emissions it can reduce are at 50-60% (Asmatulu 2008). These data imply reducing and even eliminating air pollution caused by transport utilities. The system also fits society in that there is a growing need for an engineering design that caters to sustainable development, and the biodegradability and non-toxicability of biofuels fit this overall rationale.
A Brief Description of the Major Sub-systems Making up the System
Simulation techniques and some inexpensive modification of the current infrastructure are used in the engineering system for biofuel railroad. Previously built pipeline systems such as existing railroad, storage tanks, trucks, and modified refueling station are utilised in the biofuel transportation. In the establishment of biofuel railroad transport, it must be considered that existing transportation units need modification that are inexpensive as compared to building new infrastructure to suit the system. The location of the bio-refinery or production plant for target locations is also another important part of the sub-system. In order to minimise the cost as well as integrate the sub-systems, the location of this refinery must be at the center of other system components such as the transportation and distribution network, production field, railroad, storage areas, and network of pipeline and trucking system (Asmatulu 2008 p. 71). In order to make use of the existing trucking system for refueling stations, pipelines are sparsely spread as well whilst the collection, storage, and transport operations for agricultural biomass supply to a production plant are optimised. Simulation techniques and economic analysis are drawn hand-in-hand with the overall engineering system whilst balancing the distance of each chain and other parameters including farming cost, maintenance cost, delivery time, and labour (Asmatulu 2008, p. 72)
Below is an illustration of the sub-systems governing the railroad transport system using biofuel energy (Asmatulu 2008, p. 72):
The Major Interface between the Components of the Chosen System
The biofuel railroad transport system interfaces with energy production through the use of biofuel whose general goal is evolving toward all-in lowest cost (Lorentzen, 2007). It is in synergy with the usage of the fuel and in turn increases available raw materials and thereby leads in the reduction of input costs. The usage of biofuel is introduced directly into existing distribution system.
Identification of System Boundaries
The boundaries of the engineering system are drawn within the items that address transportation and energy. The biofuel railroad transport is within the domain of a larger transport system in Britain which interlinks with the energy transport system. As a contemporary engineering system that addresses sustainable development and care for the environment through the minimisation of carbon emission, the railroad transport system is considered a revolutionary engineering design. As a new source of fuel and energy in transportation, it is viewed to direct policies on the framework of adopting energy usage through the use of raw materials like biofuels.
Identification of Immediate Wider System
The immediate wider system that serves as the environment in which the biofuel railroad transport system resides is within the policy of the European Commission that pertains to the reduction of CO2 emission in the European Union by 2012. The policy is cornerstone legislation in the European Union in terms of improving the fuel economy in the region. Ethanol and biofuels are the alternative fuels that need to be utilised in carbon emission minimisation. Corresponding changes in the policy adoption and implementation in the UK are seen to take place in line with this EC policy. An integrated approach is involved in the strategy in which the average emissions from the new passenger car fleet in the European Community should not exceed 120 g CO2/km (Greenpeace 2008).
The commission aims for a reduction of the average emission of carbon dioxide of new passenger cars in the European Union from about 160 grams/km to 130 grams/km in 2012. This is equivalent to a 19 per cent CO2 emission reduction envisioned to place the EU as a world leader of fuel efficient cars. The policy likewise sees significant outcomes in energy security, eco-innovations promotions, and high quality jobs (Greenpeace 2008).
Likewise, the biofuel railroad transport system resides in the advocacy of the UK government on the sourcing of sustainable biofuels by transport fuel suppliers (Department of Transport 2007). In line with this, the government passed a recommendation to the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) on the requirements for carbon and sustainability reporting under the RTFO strategies. Currently, the government recognises biofuels on the basis of carbon savings. It increases the data capture targets to enable transport fuel suppliers to have the greatest incentive possible to gather relevant information on the usage of their biofuels (Department of Transport 2007). This is in synergy with the EU-wide sustainability framework being in place by 2011, requiring transport fuel suppliers to meet mandatory standards whilst in their supply of biofuel. The European Council of the European Union and UK’s Department of Transport are the two immediate wider systems in which the implementation of the biofuel railroad transport system resides.
Major Interfaces between the Wider System and the Biofuel Railroad Transport System
With the introduction of biofuel energy in the railroad transport system, the policies of the European Council and that of the Department of Transport pertaining to the CO2 emission reduction are interfaced. The biofuel railroad transport engineering system is carried out with the same objectives and rationale as the specified immediate wider systems. The availability of appropriate land and the success or otherwise that only sustainable feedstock is used will determine the sustainable level of target for the EU (Renewable Fuels Agency 2006). The utilisation of advanced technologies in the penetration of biofuels is seen very important by the Union, including the current evidence suggesting that the proposed EU biofuels target should be implemented vis-à-vis understanding the indirect land use change and effective systems to manage risks. Renewable transport fuels are targeted for the EU by 2020, which is at 5 percent and 8 percent by energy (Renewable Fuels Agency 2006). The volume of energy based targets is replaced by comparable greenhouse gas saving targets to incentivise the supply of fuels characterised by lower carbon intensity (ibid).
The biofuel railroad transport system caters to the reduction of carbon emission. Carbon emission is the usual outcome of the usage of fossil fuels in transportation, which leads to damaging the environment such as air pollution, thinning of the ozone layer, and global warming (Iran Daily 2008). All of these repercussions are avoided by the adoption of the railroad transport system that uses biofuel. Similarly, such stance is undertaken by the European Commission and the Department of Transport in a similar pursuit.
The Major Points of Failure of Biofuel Railroad Transport System
This part of the paper shall point out two major points of failure of the chosen system and the possible impact if such failure occurs. One is the indirect effects of biofuels on food supplies and prices. Another is deforestation and its overall impact on greenhouse emissions caused by massive cutting of trees and destruction of rainforests used for biofuel production (Department of Transport 2007).
In terms of the first major point – effects of biofuels on food supplies and prices – it is said that increasing demand for biofuels which will be used for the railroad transport system contributes to the increase in the prices of commodities, such as oil seeds. This will have detrimental effects on the poor, albeit small in net, a fact found significant in particular locations (Renewable Fuels Agency 2006).
The second point of consideration in terms of failure of the chosen system accounts for the massive cutting of trees that leads to deforestation and its corresponding impact of greenhouse emissions. Since biofuel is extracted from plants, biodiversity is likewise affected by its sourcing of raw materials. This would lead in global warming – a fact attempted to be minimised by the usage of biofuel in the engineering transport system. The biofuel railroad transport system thus contributes to the exacerbation of global warming albeit a different form. These two major points require advanced research on the possibility of making the usage of biofuels sustainable for the transport system in UK.
A transport system based on distribution of biofuels called biofuel railroad transport system is envisioned in this paper. The railroad system is viewed to fit society in manner by which there is a strong necessity to upgrade the transport system by making it sustainable. The use of the biofuel in the transport system is aligned to this rationale. The major interfaces between the components of chosen system are identified in this paper alongside the major system boundaries. The immediate wider system and the major interfaces between the wider system and the chosen system are also concerns of this paper. However, the two major points of failure are identified as the indirect effects of biofuels on food supplies and prices, and deforestation and its overall impact on greenhouse emissions. This failures defeat the purpose of biofuel usage as a means of promoting biodiversity and minimisation of global warming. There is a call for both the wider systems and the biofuel railroad transport system to conduct further research to address mentioned failures and align them with the goal and rationale of the general usage of biofuel, particularly in the transport system.