The biofuels handbook
James Speight (ed)
RSC Publishing
2011 | 574pp | £280 (HB)
ISBN 9781849730266
Reviewed by Avtar Matharu

This book is very timely as the onset of the 21st century is gripped by several, interlinked, global economic and environmental crises that, unless mitigated, represent an unsustainable future. Ensuring a secure future energy supply is one such crisis. Crude oil (and fossil fuels) continues to be our cornerstone for energy and feedstock chemicals, but for how long? As emerging economic countries become more successful, coupled with increasing industrialisation and urbanisation, future oil production will be unable to meet the anticipated energy demand. The development and production of biofuels is an important area making significant inroads towards a sustainable energy and feedstock chemicals sector.

Biofuels as a subject is very diverse, spanning across several disciplines, scientific and non-scientific. The editor has managed this challenge very well, by keeping focus on chemistry-related issues. The book is divided in to three parts. The first looks at the transition from conventional to unconventional fuel sources, namely biomass to biofuels. The remaining two parts are very apt as they discuss some key future challenges in the production of biofuels from lignocellulosic materials and waste.   A next edition may look to include biotechnological advances in biofuel production which are progressing at breakneck speed.

This book serves as a good guide to biofuels for both specialists and those new to the field. Although some chapters are heavy going with poor quality diagrams and outdated references, I would certainly have this book on my library shelf.