Biomass as a Green Source of High-Density EnergyDownload Audio Version
Biomass can be used as a source of clean, eco-friendly energy and comes in different types. This is a renewable source that benefits the environment, the economy, and local communities.
Sources of Biomass
Different sources are used to generate energy, including industrial and food waste, agricultural residues, crops, and virgin wood. Timber is derived during the process of management of transport corridors, gardens, national parks, and forests. Different types of timber and wood parts are used, including wood pellets and chips, sawdust, logs, arisings, brash, bark, briquettes, and others. Wood is processed to remove ice, stones, mud, dust, and other waste. Types of wood waste include laminates, wood composites, treated waste and untreated wood. Agricultural crops are also used to generate biomass. These include crops such as aquatics, agricultural energy crops, non-woody crops and grasses, short rotation crops, and others. Residues and waste are another source of energy and come in the form of agricultural residues such as poultry litter, corn stover, and straw. There are wet residues such as grass silage, farmyard manure, and animal slurry that have a higher moisture or water content.
Processing, Storage, and Handling
Biomass is dried, stored, and transported for further use. Chemical, thermal, and other processes are employed to handle waste and produce fuels. Biochemical conversion is another process. Biomass is handled and stored in different ways, depending on factors such as moisture level and energy content. Storage facilities are designed to protect it from moisture.
First and Second Generation Fuels
Biomass is used for the production of green fuels such as first and second generation fuels. The former are made from corn starch, sugar cane, and other materials (vegetable oils and sugars). Other sources include grape seed, beetroot, and other agricultural crops. Their use offers plenty of benefits such as reduction of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and positive impact on public health, food security, rural development, and local communities. The volume produced depends on different factors such as the choice of agricultural practices, the type of feedstock or crop, the fuel’s life-cycle, the mode of production, and others. Second generation fuels are produced from various kinds of biomass, including agricultural waste and residues, woody crops, and others. Non-food parts are used, for example, husks, leaves, and stems, and crops such as maize, grass, and switchgrass. Industrial waste is also a source for fuel production, with waste products such as skins, straw, and woodchips. Produced from inedible parts and plants, these fuels are used to power cars and other vehicles and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Benefits of Using Biomass Energy
There are plenty of benefits for humankind, one being that it is an inexhaustible source of energy. Fuels, alcohols, and other products are clean, viable, sustainable and efficient. The negative impact on the environment is minimized when processes such as pyrolysis and fermentation are used. The only problem with biomass is that it is still an expensive source of energy. At the same time, it helps create jobs in remote and rural communities in which unused land is available.
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