Biomass Energy: Eco-Friendly and Sustainable

Biomass energy is sourced from various organic materials worldwide, such as wood, agricultural biomass, solid waste, landfill gas, and alcohol fuels. This form of energy possesses unique qualities that distinguish it from other sources. It is eco-friendly and produces lower carbon dioxide emissions compared to alternative energies. The emissions produced by biomass energy are balanced out through photosynthesis during the growth of agricultural products.

Moreover, biomass products provide a sustainable energy source that decreases reliance on imported oil and safeguards foreign exchange reserves.

Numerous nations possess abundant organic materials in different forms which can be utilized to effectively manage the disposal of industrial and household waste by converting it into biomass energy. Nevertheless, it is essential to acknowledge that biomass energy does have disadvantages including expensive costs and intricate procedures.

There are two ways to convert biomass: combustion and non-combustion. Combustion uses temperature, while non-combustion involves chemical conversion. Biomass is energy derived from organic substances. The sun is the primary source of biomass as plants use chlorophyll to convert solar energy into plant energy that can be stored.

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Plant growth relies on water, nutrients, and photosynthesis.

Biomass is an organic substance that can be renewed and consists of vegetation and plant matter. This includes forestry, crops, residues, animal waste, industrial waste, and municipal solid waste. The primary categories of biomass are wood and materials related to agriculture. Wood logs, wood chips, bark, and sawdust form the majority (79%) of sources for biomass energy.

According to (2013), biomass can be obtained from any organic substance.

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Energy crops, which are specifically grown for fuel purposes, serve as a readily available source of energy. These energy crops include short rotation crops, miscanthus, and Pellets. Pellets are solid fuel composed of sawdust, bark, woodchips, and other materials with a maximum water content of 8%. This composition allows for easy transportation, storage, and conversion into energy. England's Energy Crops Scheme supports the cultivation of these crops by providing aid to expand the dedicated area for their growth. The idea of using solid waste as fuel is not new.

Burning garbage to generate electricity is an innovative way to convert waste into useful energy. It is estimated that 2000 pounds of garbage can produce the same amount of energy as coal. Waste-to-energy plants are constructed to generate electricity by burning garbage, producing similar output as coal-fired plants. Although the cost of electricity from garbage-fired plants is higher compared to other sources, it helps save on garbage disposal costs.

According to (2013), examples of solid wastes that can be utilized as biomass include forestry residue, poultry litter, farm slurries, manure, slaughterhouse waste, fishery waste, and municipal solid waste.

Landfill Gas: Gas obtained from landfills is purified and employed as an energy source. Methane, which resembles natural gas, is a valuable energy resource. Natural gas companies supply gas furnaces and stoves with methane derived from the landfill. The estimated daily recovery of methane gas from the landfill in Florence, Alabama amounts to approximately 32 million cubic feet.

The city management processes and transfers the gas into natural gas pipelines. At present, landfill gas is being utilized on a limited scale due to the inexpensive price of natural gas, which makes biogas, a more costly alternative, not competitive. Specific crops like wheat and corn can be employed for generating liquid fuels such as ethanol and methanol. The utilization of ethanol as a fuel for engines has existed since the early stages of automobiles. In the 20th century, Henry Ford, an innovator in car production, promoted the use of gasohol to fuel vehicles.

Gasohol, a blend of ethanol and gasoline, has generated controversy due to its expensive nature. Despite being twice as costly as oil in the market, ethanol consumption has risen steadily thanks to a federal highway tax exemption granted by the US government. Gasoline engines can run on gasohol without any modifications, unlike pure ethanol. Typically comprising 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline, gasohol is utilized up to 50% in certain states with ample corn production.

Gasohol has advantages including increased engine power from its higher octane content and cleaner burning, leading to reduced carbon monoxide emissions. By transitioning to gasohol, non-oil producing nations can reduce their dependence on foreign oil (, 2013). Biomass energy is a modern substitute for conventional wood heating methods, offering a more efficient power source (, 2013).

Energy crops are grown specifically for the purpose of fueling plants and machinery. Biomass energy offers several benefits, such as preventing the release of harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a major environmental issue due to its role in ozone depletion. The use of biomass energy helps protect the environment by reducing these emissions. Furthermore, biomass energy is considered clean and environmentally friendly. The US Government supports its use and provides tax credits to companies that utilize it, promoting both environmental conservation and potential cost savings. Biomass energy adopts an approach that efficiently harnesses natural resources.

Carbon dioxide emissions are generated during the growth of biomass products, but they are absorbed for photosynthesis. In contrast, detrimental emissions from fossil fuels persist in the atmosphere. The origins of biomass products are plentiful and renewable as they originate from the earth's life-sustaining environment. As long as sunlight persists, there is no danger of depleting biomass sources. In the UK, chicken wastages serve as a source of biomass energy, while forests abundantly provide biomass energy in the US and Russia.

Reduction of Dependence on Fossil oil

Biomass energy is essential in decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, particularly in areas lacking local oil reserves. Numerous countries incur significant costs from importing foreign oil, making biomass an appealing substitute. Furthermore, biomass energy aids in reducing landfill usage by transforming waste into usable energy. Moreover, the adaptability of biomass enables the production of diverse organic substances. For instance, crops such as corn can be utilized to generate ethanol. Given the abundance of organic materials on our planet, there are limitless possibilities for various biomass products.

Disadvantages of Biomass Energy

The production processes for biomass are more expensive and require careful attention. Consequently, biomass cannot compete in the current market because fossil fuels and natural gas are cheaper. Ethanol is particularly inefficient compared to other energy sources, especially gasoline. To make ethanol usable, it needs to be mixed with gasoline, which can be inconvenient for users. Furthermore, prolonged use of ethanol can harm an engine.

Environmental Damages

Despite the potential for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, biomass products have the drawback of releasing methane, a harmful gas that harms the ozone layer. Additionally, utilizing waste products as biomass can result in unpleasant odors in the environment. The transition to using biomass as a fuel source leads to increased fuel consumption due to its inefficiency. Furthermore, burning biomass products would require extensive land areas to safeguard residential areas from possible consequences.

Despite its significance as a renewable energy source, biomass consumption is not appropriate for densely populated regions, as stated by (2013). Biomass maintains its sustainability through a cyclic life pattern and aids in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by absorbing it via photosynthesis and transforming it into sugar.

Biomass is a valuable energy source that can be locally produced due to its worldwide abundance, reducing dependence on finite fossil fuels. The conversion of waste into valuable resources further emphasizes the importance of utilizing biomass. In India, biomass is mainly used for domestic purposes, while industrial consumption is higher in the United States (, 2013). Biomass energy can be generated through combustion or chemical conversion of organic substances.


Combustion process, also known as the generation of heat by biomass products converted into energy, is the simplest form of biomass energy (Painter, 2013). Another method called co-firing process involves replacing 15% to 20% of coal with biomass in power plants. This process reduces operational costs and gas emissions, typically utilizing switch grass. On the other hand, thermal conversion process utilizes heat to extract energy from biomass by chemically modifying it with oxygen into various chemicals.


The gasification process converts carbon substances into hydrogen and carbon monoxide by subjecting them to high temperatures and controlling oxygen and steam quantities. This results in the production of syngas. In contrast, pyrolysis involves heating biomass without oxygen, leading to the formation of charcoal, tar, oil, and different gases like carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide.


The process of torrefaction involves using heat to produce biomass. It requires temperatures between 200 and 320 degrees Celsius. During this process, the biomass is deprived of oxygen and moisture, resulting in the removal of volatile matter. This results in the creation of bio-coal, which emits less smoke and can be used for industrial and domestic purposes.

Chemical conversion provides another method for converting biomass. It includes transforming substances such as corn, soybeans, sugar cane, and others into a liquid state that can act as a substitute for diesel and gasoline. Additionally, used cooking oil collected from restaurants can be converted into biodiesel.


In order to analyze the chemical composition of a plant, it is essential to heat the plant without using combustion. The chemicals can exist in solid, gas, or liquid form. Some chemicals can be utilized as they are, while others require additional purification. For example, a biomass gasifier is used to extract methane from plants, which can then serve as fuel for a turbine that generates electricity. Methane is later converted into hydrogen with minimal emissions for power production. Another technique known as biochemical fermentation is employed to convert bioenergy. Corn undergoes fermentation to produce ethanol.


To summarize, biomass is a highly valuable and sustainable energy source. It relies on the continuous presence of sunlight, which enables organic matter to grow abundantly. Biomass can be obtained from vegetation and waste materials. Vegetation is widely accessible worldwide, while waste products are produced in significant amounts due to industrial activities and human lifestyle choices. Nonetheless, further research could help minimize the drawbacks associated with biomass energy consumption.

Updated: Feb 16, 2024
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Biomass Energy: Eco-Friendly and Sustainable. (2016, Sep 15). Retrieved from

Biomass Energy: Eco-Friendly and Sustainable essay
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