Biomass Technologies That Can Help us Turn Waste Into Energy

With an ever growing population that is consuming more and more, we are forever exploring new ways of dealing with our waste. In fact, technologies are being developed with the aim to no only dispose of waste but to make something of it, or even use it as a source of energy. Waste removal companies in Melbourne will always look to recycle anything that you’ve thrown out, but even wastes that end up in landfill can be put to some use through the creation of biofuel.

We are learning new ways to not only dispose of our waste but to put it to good use. This article will explain how such this process works.

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What is Biomass?

Biomass is essentially a source of fuel or energy that comes from the burning of organic matter. The potential here is that we would burn waste products and create energy in doing so; getting rid of what we don’t want and converting it into something useful while doing so. We have started to focus more on utilizing biomass to create energy in recent years. In fact, it is one of the world’s largest renewable energy resources currently available.

Where Does Biomass Come From?

The waste products in question vary quite a bit and include wood, which remains the most used source of biomass today. Essentially, by burning wood we are creating energy that can be used for a wide variety of purposes including heating, cooking, etc. The energy of this heat can also be harnessed and collected in various ways.

However, there are more sophisticated biomass sources that we utilize and convert into energy. As well as directly producing heat, we are able to convert the energy into other forms of fuel. You may have heard stories about people that have built functioning cars that run on vegetable oil (, for instance. This is the power of biofuel.

We are able to convert a great deal of organic matter into biofuel, including a wide range of plants and crops and even the gases produced by landfill. Manufacturing waste in agriculture accounts for a large proportion of the biofuel that we produce, particularly from wheat, barley and alfalfa, to name a few that produce high levels of energy.

Various Biomass Technologies

Direct Combustion

Direct combustion involves the burning of waste in boilers to produce steam. These push turbines around and the movement creates energy that can be stored.


Co-firing involves the burning of a mixture of coal (which is a finite resource) and biomass together. This is a common practice in power plants around the world and is quite cost effective given that the biomass can be burnt with the use of existing equipment and infrastructure. It also allows us to get more energy out of the biomass.


Gasification allows us to put biofuel in gas form, which can be more efficient and user friendly under certain conditions. The idea here is to heat biomass in an oxygen free environment to produce a gas that can fuel machines that create energy themselves. But why would we do this when we can just use direct combustion to create energy? Well the fuel gas method is twice as efficient and is more environmentally friendly.

Standard Gasification

Standard gasification is characterized as the warm transformation of natural materials at a temperature of 1,000 °F – 2,800 °F (540 °C – 1,540 °C), with a constrained supply of air or oxygen (sub-stoichiometric climate). This is not ignition and consequently, there is no consuming. Gasification utilizes a small amount of the air/oxygen that is for the most part expected to combust a given material and accordingly makes a low to medium Btu syngas. Albeit more develop than different procedures, it requires complex frameworks, for example, gas tidy up hardware.

The U.S. Bureau of Energy’s (DOE) Worldwide Gasification Database demonstrates that the present gasification limit has developed to 70,817 megawatts warm (MWth) of syngas yield at 144 working plants with an aggregate of 412 gasifiers. The database likewise demonstrates that 11 plants, with 17 gasifiers, are by and by under development, and an extra 37 plants, with 76 gasifiers, are in the arranging stages to end up plainly operational in the vicinity of 2011 and 2016. The lion’s share of these plants—40 of 48—will utilise coal as the feedstock. On the off chance that this development is acknowledged, overall limit by 2016 will be 122,106 MWth of syngas limit, from 192 plants and 505 gasifiers. This information base shows that there are gasifiers working on both biomass and waste. Figures 6 and 7 are two essential sorts of gasifiers, Figure 6 is fluidised bed gasifier and roast combustor and Figure 7 is a run of the mill slagging gasifier.

Plasma Arc Gasification

Plasma Arc gasification is the procedure of that uses a plasma light or plasma curve utilizing carbon anodes, copper, tungsten, hafnium, or zirconium to start the temperature bringing about the gasification response. Plasma temperature temperatures extend from 4,000 °F – 20,000 °F (2,200 °C – 11,000 °C), making a high esteem syngas as well as high esteem sensible warmth. The innovation has been utilized for a considerable length of time to obliterate squanders that might be risky. The subsequent fiery debris is like glass that exemplifies the unsafe mixes.

The principal Plasma Arc unit started operation in 1985 at Anniston, Alabama. The unit utilised an exhaust system framework to enhance gas quality and the gasifier was intended to demolish weapons. The second framework started operation in 1995 in Japan took after by the third framework in Bordeaux, France, both outline for MSW. There are other working frameworks in Sweden, Norway, the UK, Canada, Taiwan and the U.S., Japan has included nine more since 1995. These are little in size, however, can scale up, utilising numerous units. Figure 8 and Figure 9 demonstrate two or three current frameworks accessible available and both can be utilised to diminish squander and create clean electric vitality.


Pyrolysis is a piece of gasification frameworks. In this procedure, the halfway ignition happens at a temperature of 842F-1112F, which brings about the development of a fluid bio-oil and also vaporous and strong items.

The pyrolysis oil can be utilised as a fuel to deliver power, and the staying strong is a charcoal-like deposit known as a roast. The bio-oil can then be burned like petroleum to produce power while the scorch can be utilised for warming.

Anaerobic Absorption

Anaerobic absorption changes biomass feedstock with a generally high dampness content into biogas. The procedure depends on specific sorts of microbes to separate natural material without oxygen and deliver biogas as a waste item. Anaerobic absorption is a normally happening method and can be tackled to regard natural material, for example, vitality products, deposits, and squanders from mechanical and agrarian procedures and city squanders streams. These materials, when covered, are processed by microbes, bringing about biogas (landfill gas) rich in methane. This gas is gathered and used to warmth structures, run motors, and produce power.

It will be interesting to see what future technologies can be developed to further improve this process. At present, household waste contributes a very small amount of useable biomass and the majority of biomass that we are converting to energy comes from the commercial and industrial sectors. However things are improving and we are becoming more adept at making the most of our waste.

Author Bio: David Nicoll is a freelance writer and an independent blogger who writes on renewable energy, sustainable living and waste management like Metro Bin Hire


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.