Access keys

Skip to content Accessibility Home News, events and publications Site map Search Privacy policy Help Contact us Terms of use

Practical biofuel activities

The activities are provided to engage young people with the science and issues surrounding bioenergy and biofuels. The topics cover a range of areas in science and technology including: plant science, microbiology and chemistry.

They are provided inline with our strategic priorities which include bioenergy and industrial biotechnology.

Find the activity you are looking for from this content list:

Contents and introduction
Current biofuel activities
Advanced biofuel activities
Dry activities
Summary and links
General presentation

Who should download these activities?

Researchers – To communicate and engage young people with the scientific principles and research in the fields of bioenergy and biofuels through practical activities.

Teachers – Many of the activities are suggested by exam boards to cover the knowledge, understanding or practical skills content required for GCSE, A-level or Higher examinations.

What is in the practical guide?

  • Background information on the science involved in the field of bioenergy and biofuels
  • Further information about current research
  • Practical activities:
    • Instructions
    • Learning objectives
    • Keywords
    • Suitable age ranges
    • Suggested prior knowledge
    • Approximate time needed
    • Extension activities
    • Curriculum links
  • Health and safety guidance
  • Supporting activities and resources
  • Supporting PowerPoint presentations
  • Further reading and weblinks

Feedback

The first edition of the Biofuel kit. Image: BBSRC

Please contact us with any questions or feedback (contact information below).

Biofuel kits

Our free biofuel kits have been really popular and we don't have any left at present. If you would still like a kit please send us your details and a brief description of your bioenergy outreach and engagement activities to the contact below and we will send one out to you when we can.

Activities

Contents and introduction (PDF 564KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Current biofuels

The activities found in this resource are:

  • Biogas
    Activity 1A – Biogas generator
  • Oil and Biodiesel
    Activity 1B – Oil extraction
    Activity 1C – Oil viscosity
    Activity 1D – Biodiesel production
  • Bioethanol
    Activity 1E – Extracting sugar from sugar beet
    Activity 1F – Carbohydrate testing
    Activity 1G – Yeast fermentation
Current biofuel activities (PDF 882KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Advanced biofuels

The activities found in this resource are:

  • Lignocellulosic bioethanol
    Activity 2A – Plant material testing
    Activity 2B – Hydrolysis of biofuel feedstocks
    Activity 2C – Fermentation of lignocelluloses
  • Bacterial Biofuels
    Activity 2D – Bacterial cellulase
    Activity 2E – Cellulase enzyme activity
  • Algal Biofuels
    Activity 3A – Culturing algae
    Activity 3B – Algal photosynthesis
    Activity 3C – Algae chromatography
Advanced biofuels activities (PDF 988KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Dry activities

The activities found in this resource are:

  • Recognition activities
    Activity 4A – Making biofuel molecules
    Activity 4B – Biofuel Feedstocks
  • Puzzles
    Activity 4C – Bioenergy Crosswords
    Activity 4D – Bioenergy Wordsearches
    Activity 4E – Bioenergy sentence loops
Dry activities (PDF 2.60MB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Summary and links

The contents found in this resource are:

  • Glossary
  • Key words
  • Further reading
  • Web links
  • Summarised curriculum links
  • Acknowledgments
Summary and links (PDF 816KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

General presentation

Powering the Future: Biofuels (PDF 2.57MB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Curriculum

These links are restricted to science subjects and refer to schemes of work or qualifications currently offered in the UK.

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank all the contributing researchers involved, who carried out the activities at science events and in schools as well as providing help and support in developing this guide, in particular Gary Wortley at the Institute of Food Research for equipment and technical support, Alison Smith for the algal chromatography activities and Jen Bromley for developing the lignocellulosic ethanol activities.

Thanks also go to North Walsham High School, Acle High School and the East Norfolk Triple Science Network and their pupils for hosting these activities and to work experience pupils Lucy Handford and Joseph McKenzie for refining protocols.

The resource builds on the work of Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS), the Society of General Microbiology (SGM) and National Centre for Biotechnology Education (NCBE) and thanks go respectively to Daniel Jenkins, Dariel Burdass and Dean Madden for their input.

Images

These images are protected by copyright law and may be used with acknowledgement.

Practical biofuel activities for schools

Image: Institute of Food Research Demonstrating the steam explosion method 

Tristan Maclean demonstrating the steam explosion method of producing bioethanol at the Institute of Food Research open day. Copyright: Institute of Food Research

Image: Institute of Food Research Biofuel-powered Lotus 

Biofuel-powered Lotus in the biorefinery at the Institute of Food Research open day. Copyright: Institute of Food Research

Image: Kathryn Bradley, Trentham High School Specialist Science College Considering biofuel feedstocks 

Pupils at Trentham High School Specialist Science College, Trentham, Stoke-On-Trent, considering biofuel feedstocks. Copyright: Kathryn Bradley, Trentham High School Specialist Science College

Image: Kathryn Bradley, Trentham High School Specialist Science College Learning biofuel molecular structure 

Pupils at Trentham High School Specialist Science College, Trentham, Stoke-On-Trent, get to grips with biofuel molecular structure. Copyright: Kathryn Bradley, Trentham High School Specialist Science College

Image: Kathryn Bradley, Trentham High School Specialist Science College Making biofuel molecules 

Making biofuel molecules at Trentham High School Specialist Science College, Trentham, Stoke-On-Trent. Copyright: Kathryn Bradley, Trentham High School Specialist Science College

Image: Kathryn Bradley, Trentham High School Specialist Science College Making carbondioxide and biofuel molecules 

Making carbondioxide and biofuel molecules at Trentham High School Specialist Science College, Trentham, Stoke-On-Trent. Copyright: Kathryn Bradley, Trentham High School Specialist Science College

Image: BBSRC Demonstrating how to make biofuels 

Professor Claire Halpin shows young scientists how to make biofuels at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, April 2011. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: BBSRC Professor Claire Halpin demonstrating to visitors 

Professor Claire Halpin getting hands on with young visitors at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, April 2011. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: BBSRC Extracting oil 

Extracting oil from biofuel crops at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: BBSRC Investigating polymers 

Investigating polymers at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: BBSRC Hands-on activities 

Hands-on activities at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: BBSRC Demonstrating bioenergy applications in cars 

Professor Frank Sargent and Lisa Bowman talking about powering cars with bioenergy at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, April 2011. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: John Innes Centre Measuring photosynthesis 

Year 10 pupils measure photosynthesis at the Norwich Research Park Health and Life Sciences convention. Copyright: John Innes Centre

Image: John Innes Centre Explaining bioenergy possibilities 

Explaining bioenergy possibilities at the Norwich Research Park Health and Life Sciences convention for year 10 pupils. Copyright: John Innes Centre

Image: Louise Dynes, The University of Nottingham The Big Bang Fair 

Miss Stephanie Brindley Bioenergy MRes student, The University of Nottingham, at The Big Bang Fair, London 2011. Copyright: Louise Dynes, The University of Nottingham

Image: Louise Dynes, The University of Nottingham The Big Bang Fair 

Miss Louise Dynes, Bioenergy Outreach Officer and Miss Stephanie Brindley Bioenergy MRes student, The University of Nottingham, at The Big Bang Fair, London 2011. Copyright: Louise Dynes, The University of Nottingham

Image: BBSRC Big Bang Fair 2011 

Big Bang Fair 2011. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: BBSRC Big Bang Fair 2011 

Big Bang Fair 2011. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: BBSRC Big Bang Fair 2011 

Big Bang Fair 2011. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: BBSRC Researchers at The Big Bang Fair 

Researchers Stephanie Brindley and Gareth Little at The Big Bang Fair in March 2011. Copyright: BBSRC

Image: John Innes Centre Science in Norwich 

Science in Norwich day, March 2011. Copyright: John Innes Centre

Image: John Innes Centre John Tickle at Science in Norwich day 

John Tickle gets hands-on with the public and BBSRC researchers at Science in Norwich day, March 2011. Copyright: John Innes Centre

Image: John Innes Centre Science in Norwich day 

Science in Norwich day, March 2011. Copyright: John Innes Centre

Image: John Innes Centre Science in Norwich day 

Science in Norwich day, March 2011. Copyright: John Innes Centre

Image: John Innes Centre Explaining lignocellulosic bioethanol production 

Tristan Maclean explaining lignocellulosic bioethanol production to Brainiac star John Tickle. Copyright: John Innes Centre