Biomass explanation in very simple and easy wording for all

Biomass explanation
Biomass Energy

Biomass is a term used to describe all the organic matter got through photosynthesis that exists on the surface of the earth. 

It includes all aquatic and terrestrial vegetation and trees, and all waste from living organisms, such as municipal solid waste, substances of biological origin (sewage), waste from forestry, animal husbandry (manure), agricultural waste, and certain types of industrial waste. 

World energy markets rely heavily on fossil fuels. Biomass is the only naturally occurring energy resource that contains enough carbon to a replacement.

Unlike fossil fuels, biomass is a renewable energy source. It requires a relatively temporary period to restore an energy resource. 

Biomass is also the only renewable energy source that emits carbon dioxide during processing. If we use the biomass resource sustainably, then over time the carbon emission does not increase in the biomass processing cycle.

Methods for processing biomass

We can convert biomass into heat, liquid, solid or gaseous fuels, and other chemical products through various processing processes. 

Today, we generate a significant part of the electricity from biomass by direct combustion. With the development of technologies, we will achieve an increase in efficiency by burning a mixture of biomass and coal in boilers and introducing highly efficient gasification, combined-cycle systems, fuel cell systems, and modular systems.

Bio-energy technologies: direct combustion, Co-combustion, gasification, pyrolysis, and anaerobic fermentation.

1. Direct burning

Direct burning is perhaps the easiest way to get energy from biomass. Industrial facilities can burn many types of biomass-based fuels, including firewood, agricultural waste, wood pulp, and municipal solid waste. When all material burns in boilers, it produces steam that rotates the turbine that generates electricity. 

Because of the potential accumulation of ash that clogs the boiler, reducing its efficiency and increasing costs, only certain types of biomass materials are used for direct combustion.

2. Gasification

Gasification is the process of exposure to a solid fuel of high temperature with limited access to oxygen to produce gaseous fuel. In this way, we get a mixture of gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen, and methane.

Gasification has several advantages over solid fuel combustion. An important plus of technology is one of the produced gases - methane. We can treat it in the same way as natural gas and used it for the same purpose.

The advantage is that gasification produces fuel without impurities. Therefore, burning it causes fewer pollution problems. Under certain conditions, it is possible to produce synthesis gas - a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which can be a raw material for the production of hydrocarbons (for example, methane and methanol) to replace fossil fuels. Hydrogen itself is also a potential environmentally friendly fuel that this world expects to replace oil and petroleum products in the foreseeable future.

3. Pyrolysis

Pyrolysis is the process of the heating of biomass with the removal of volatile substances, resulting in the formation of charcoal. This process converts the source material into more energy-intensive, since charcoal weighs half the initial biomass, but contains the same amount of energy, which makes the fuel more transportable. Coal also burns at a significantly higher temperature than the original biomass. This makes it more useful for production processes. More sophisticated pyrolysis methods have recently been developed to collect volatile substances. Collected volatiles produce a gas rich in hydrogen and carbon monoxide. It synthesizes these compounds into methane, methanol, and other hydrocarbons.

We use fast pyrolysis for the production of bio-oil - combustible fuel. We use heat to convert biomass into synthetic oil, which is easier to store and transport than solid biomass materials. Then it burns and produces electricity. Pyrolysis can also convert biomass to phenol oil, a chemical used to make wood adhesives, injection plastics, and insulation foam.

4. Anaerobic fermentation

Anaerobic fermentation of biomass is completed by anaerobic bacteria. These microorganisms usually live at the bottom of swamps or in other places where there is no air, consuming dead organic matter with the formation of methane and hydrogen. 

We can use these bacteria to work for us. By feeding organic matter, such as animal manure or wastewater, into tanks called boilers, and adding bacteria there, we can collect the released gas to use as a source of energy. This process is a very effective means of extracting useful electricity from biomass. We can recover up to two-thirds of the fuel energy from animal manure.

Another method involves collecting methane from landfills. Most household biomass waste, such as food waste or grass, collect clippings at local landfills. For several decades, anaerobic bacteria in the lower layers of such landfills decompose organic matter, releasing methane. We can extract gas by installing a top stop from an impermeable clay layer and installing perforated pipes that will collect the gas and bring it to the surface.

5. Fermentation

For many centuries, people have used yeast and other microorganisms to ferment the sugar of various plants into ethyl alcohol. 

The fermentation of biomass fuel production is just a continuation of this process. It is possible to use a wider range of plant material from sugarcane to wood fiber. For example, waste from milling wheat in mills in New South Wales is used to produce ethanol by fermentation. 

In Australia, they blend ethanol with diesel to produce the fuel used in trucks and buses.

Technological advances will inevitably improve this method. For example, scientists in Australia and the USA have replaced yeast with genetically engineered bacteria during the fermentation process. 

The efficiency of the process has improved significantly. Now you can recycle paper waste and other forms of wood fiber into ethanol.

Biofuel production

We convert biomass to fuel, such as ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, and gasoline reforming additives. We use biofuel in pure form or a mixture of gasoline.

Ethanol is the most widely used biofuel. It produces by fermenting biomass in a process similar to brewing.

Today, we make most of the ethanol from corn. It is mixed with the gasoline to increase vehicle efficiency and reduce air pollution.

Methanol produces from gasification. We convert biomass to synthesis gas, later; it converts into methanol. It produces most methanol from natural gas and a solvent, antifreeze, or for the synthesis of other chemicals. About we use 38 percent for transportation as a mixture or in gasoline reforming.

Biodiesel comprises oils and fats found in micro-algae and other plants. They replace diesel fuel or dilute it.

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