66129 - Biofuels

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Affordable and clean energy Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students should be able to understand the principles of biomass conversion into fuels, the key properties of biofuels and fossil fuels, the environmental issues linked to their production and use.

Course contents

Combustion and fuels, fire and flames, mass and energy balance, comparison with other energy sources. General chemical-physical characteristics of fuels (elemental, proximate analysis, heating value etc.), environmental issues (emissions, sustainability etc.). Fossil fuels, oil refinery, gasoline, diesel fuel. Biomass: definition, typologies, properties, potentiality and limits (sustainability, ILUC, EROI etc.). Conversion processes of biomass: chemical (transesterification), thermochemical (pyrolysis, gasification), biological (fermentation). Biofuels: chemical-physical properties, advantages and drawbacks, comparison with conventional fuels. Biodiesel, bioethanol and derivatives, biogas. Second/third generation biofuels.


Text of the course, divided in chapters for each topic, with figures and tables, bibliography including books available at the Library of Environmental Sciences and e-books accesible by intranet.

Sustainable Biofuels 1st Edition, Ramesh Ray

Teaching methods

Videoprojection of figures, tables etc. experiments in classes/laboratory, visits to biofuel facilities.

Assessment methods

Oral examination. The student should descibe a biofuel, the feedstock biomass, the conversion process, its fuel properties, and enviornmental problems and benefits related to its its use.

Teaching tools

Video projector, PC, laboratory instrumentation.

Office hours

See the website of Cristian Torri