What is Biomass Energy?

Biomass is a renewable energy because it contains the energy which comes from the sun. Biomass is basically an organic material made from plants and animals. Through the process of photosynthesis, chlorophyll present in plants absorbs the energy from the sun by converting the carbon-dioxide present in air and water from the ground in carbohydrates. The chemical energy that is present in plants is passed onto the animals and people that eat them.

So, when these plants and animals are burned they turn back into carbon dioxide and water and release the sun’s energy they contain. In this way, we can say that biomass is renewable source of energy because we can always produce more crops and plants and waste will always exist. As long as biomass is produced this source of renewable energy will last for ever. Examples of biomass include: plants, crops, trees and garbage.

Biomass in itself contains chemical energy. So, when you burn wood which is a biomass fuel, the chemical energy inside releases as heat. It can also be used to produce steam which can further be used to generate electricity. Using biomass for energy can cut back on waste and can also help in reducing the landfill. With the increase in costs people are trying to turn to more biomass and less fossil fuels

It may looks like that biomass helps in increasing global warming. But, in fact it is other way round. Plants use carbon di-oxide and release oxygen. When these plants decay, they are burnt and carbon di-oxide is released into the atmosphere. When these crops are again replanted, the new plants use the same CO2 and which was produced by the burned plants. This way biomass does not contribute towards global warming. However, if the the plants are not replanted, then biomass may release carbon di-oxide(CO2) which will in turn increase global warming.

So, crux of the point is biomass energy is renewable as the stored energy i.e. CO2 is release, recycled and reused. It is environment friendly as doesn’t contribute to global warming and can be produced over and over again.

Advantages:

  1. Less dependence on fossil fuels
  2. Reduction in landfill disposal
  3. Easily available and inexhaustible fuel source
  4. Has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases. Though it also emit carbon-dioxide, but carbon-dioxide released by it is largely balanced by the carbon dioxide captured in its own growth. Where as carbon-dioxide released by fossil fuels was captured by photosynthesis millions of years ago.

Disadvantages:

  1. Could contribute a great deal to global warming and particulate pollution if directly burned.
  2. An expensive source and research is needed to reduce the cost of production of biomass based fuels.
  3. Biomass conversion projects are limited and therefore on a smaller scale there is more likely a net loss of energy.
  4. Land needed to produce biomass may be in demand for other purposes such as conservation or housing or agriculture use.

References

http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter10.html 

http://cms.oregon.gov/energy/renew/Biomass/Pages/BiomassHome.aspx

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.