Biomass gets its energy from the sun. Plants store the sun’s energy in their leaves and roots. Then animals eat plants and other animals to move and grow. The energy of the sun is 'captured' through the process of photosynthesis in growing plants.
Biomass energy is renewable, which means we can make more biomass in a short time. We can always grow more plants.
Biomass can be used to make electricity. Many towns burn their garbage in waste-to-energy plants. Instead of putting the garbage in landfills, they burn it to make electricity.
Biomass can be used to make an energy-rich gas called biogas. Biogas is like the natural gas we use in our stoves and furnaces.
Biomass is found in forests, fields and barns, in industrial and manufacturing facilities, and in landfills. Click on picture for full size.
Biomass can also be turned into a fuel like gasoline. Just as apples can be made into cider, corn and wheat can be made into ethanol. Ethanol is a fuel a lot like gasoline.
Biomass is part of the carbon cycle. Carbon from the atmosphere is converted into biological matter by photosynthesis.
Biomass is a sustainable and potentially environmentally sound resource.
Biomass is considered to be one of the key renewable resources of the future at both small- and large-scale levels. It already supplies 14 % of the world’s primary energy consumption.
With increases in population and per capita demand, and depletion of fossil-fuel resources, the demand for biomass is expected to increase rapidly in developing countries
Growing biomass is a rural, labour-intensive activity, and can, therefore, create jobs in rural areas and help stem rural-to-urban migration.
Extracting energy from biomass is an ancient practice, dating back to when people first burnt wood to provide heat and light.
Most biomass is in solid form, but it can also be a liquid. Biomass usually consists of a complex polymer of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen with small amounts of nitrogen and inorganic elements.
Biomass is not fossilised material (like oil, coal and gas) but fresh material that can grow again after having been harvested.
Modern biomass is used to produce power and heat in large-scale facilities: solid biomass, biogas, biofuel or biodiesel.
Using biomass as a fuel means that carbon dioxide (CO2) which was absorbed from the air while the plant was growing, is released back into the air when the fuel is burned. The system is said to be carbon neutral.
Biomass power or biopower is the use of biomass to generate electricity, or heat and steam required for the operation of a refinery. Biopower system technologies include direct-firing, cofiring, gasification, pyrolysis, and anaerobic digestion.
The forest biomass is currently the most expensive fuel for the power plants and the market structure will not support transport of much more than 50 miles from the forest to the biomass powerplant.
Example of biomass energy usage in US: Washington biomass is already producing electricity, steam and fuels while creating jobs from clean, sustainable sources of energy.
Biomass is the top candidate for oil equivalents, and indeed biodiesel has been getting more attention of late as a renewable and low-net-carbon method of fueling vehicles.
Biomass is becoming increasingly interesting as a source of heating for rural districts. Biomass will be the most important fuel for rural households particularly in their cooking and agriculture activities such as crop drying.
Like crude oil refining, it is expected that plant biomass will be fractionated into its different component parts, which will then be used for the production of a wide variety of fuels, materials and fine chemicals.
According to trials happening in Japan, if the biomass is going to be transported in from 200 km away, the amount of energy needed to transport the biomass is going to be larger than the energy that can be produced.
The manufacturing related to biomass is going to happen where biomass occurs. Biomass occurs in rural areas meaning more manufacturing jobs in rural areas.