Biomass energy is a form of renewable energy produced from biomass. Biomass is a material obtained by the growth of micro-organisms, plants or animals. Examples include plants, fertilisers, human waste water, etc. All biomass is based on carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.
Biomass from plants contains carbon and energy from sunlight (obtained by photosynthesis). Combustion produces carbon dioxide, which is nevertheless considered renewable (according to UN and EU legislation) as it is returned to the new plants through photosynthesis.
Below are some examples of biomass.
Types of biomass
- Human waste water and animal manure : It can be converted into biogas, which can later be stored and used.
- Wood, food and other waste (paper, etc.) in the waste: Wood and paper can be used directly to produce thermal energy. Food can be converted into biogas.
- Crops and agricultural waste : Crops such as Miskantus and Switch can be converted into biofuels. Agricultural waste can be incinerated directly to produce thermal energy.
- Wood and carpentry waste: It can be burned directly to produce thermal energy.
Pay attention: Thermal energy from biomass can easily be converted into mechanical and electrical energy at a suitable location.
Biofuels are the same fuel as petrol and can be burned to produce thermal energy. Biofuels can be divided into two generations.
- First generation biofuel
These biofuels come from food sources. For example, the fermentation of maize starch and sugar cane for the production of bioethanol. Bioethanol is a type of alcohol that can be burned to produce thermal energy.
- Second-generation biofuels
These biofuels come from non-food sources. For example, cheap energy crops (miscantus and telephone switchboard), municipal and agricultural waste.
Energy benefits of biomass
- Compared to fossil fuels, it’s cheap.
- Help with the waste disposal.
- It produces less carbon (or is carbon neutral).
- It does not contain mercury or sulfur.
- Human and animal waste will always be present in their production.
- This reduces the dependence on fossil fuels.
- This can reduce dependence on foreign oil.
- It’s a renewable energy source.
- By buying waste from other industries, it can increase their revenues.
- It can reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
Shortages of energy production from biomass
- It contains less energy than fossil fuels.
- Energy crops can occupy land used for agriculture.
- If this is not checked properly, it can lead to deforestation.
- It’s not as clean as other renewable energy sources. Carbon is also released during combustion.
- The costs of energy production are higher than those of fossil fuels.
Biomass energy applications
- It can be used to generate electricity.
- It can be used for driving vehicles.
- It can be used for cooking.
- It can be used for space heating.
What is non-renewable energy?
What is geothermal energy?
What is solar energy?
What is solar energy?
What’s a windmill?
What is a wind turbine?
Photo source: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/.
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