Biomass as a Natural Resource of Energy

Biomass energy is derived from the organic matters which have been spread across the earth in abundance. Biomass energy consists of wood and agricultural biomass, solid wastes, landfills gas and alcohol fuels. There are important characteristics of biomass energy which distinct it from other kind of sources. Firstly it is environment friendly. In most cases, the emission of carbon dioxide is smaller as compared to the emission of its counterparts. Whatever quantity biomass energy emits, it takes back during the growth of the agricultural related products in during photosynthesis process.

Secondly, the supply of biomass products is renewable. Almost all the nations of the world have been in possession of the organic substances in different forms. So, the local supply of biomass relieves an oil importing countries from foreign oil and saves their foreign exchange reserves. Thirdly, the disposal of industry and domestic wastes is a pains-taking issue. Such wastes may usefully consumed by converting it into the biomass energy. Biomass energy has some disadvantages; it is costly and involves difficult processes.

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The process of conversion of biomass includes combustion process and non-combustion process; informer the temperature is used while in non-combustion process the conversion is taken place chemically. Introduction The source of biomass is organic substances. It is a kind of energy. The ultimate source of biomass is the sun. A process is taken place in all plants which is called photosynthesis by which the plants consume chlorophyll for the conversion of energy coming from sun to the energy which is storable in the plants.

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The ingredients of the growth of plant are water, nutrients and the process of photosynthesis.

It is renewable organic substance consisting of vegetation and wastes having plant matter. The wastes consisting of plant matter include forestry, crops and residues, wastes of animals, wastes of some industries and solid wastes collected by municipal department. Types of Biomass Wood and Agriculture related biomass The major portion of biomass energy is home grown. Four products of biomass; first wood-logs; second wood chips; third bark; and fourth sawdust make 79% of the energy coming from biomass.

Yet, biomass may be produced from any matter of organic substance (earthsciencebiomass. ripod. com, 2013). Crops produced for energy are called energy crops. Such crops may readily be used for fuel. Energy crops include short rotation crops, miscanthus, Pellets. Pellets are a solid fuel containing low water content, 8% maximum. It is made of sawdust, bark, woodchips etc. Due this, pellets are easy to be transported, stored and converted to the energy. These crops were included in Energy Crops Scheme of England which seeks the increase in the area being set aside for such crops by employing grants. Solid Waste Burning trash is not novel idea.

Burning trash for electricity generation is, of course, innovation. This is conversion of wastes into the useful kind of energy. It is estimated that an amount of 2000 pounds of garbage gives energy equal to the same amount of coal do. Waste-to-energy plants are built to generate electricity by burning garbage. The output of such plants is similar to the coal fired generation plants. Though the cost of electricity making by garbage fired plants are more than what it costs in case of other sources but it saves the costs of disposal of garbage.

Examples of solid wastes which may be used as biomass are–forestry residue, poultry litter, farm slurries, manure, slaughterhouse, fishery waste, municipal solid waste etc (earthsciencebiomass. tripod. com, 2013). Land fill Gas Through landfills, the gas is collected, purified and used as the source of energy. Similar to natural gas, methane is good source of energy. Mostly, the gas furnaces and stoves consume methane provided by the natural gas companies. Estimation of recovery of methane gas of the landfill situated at Florence in Alabama is about 32 million cubic feet daily.

The gas is purified and pumped into the pipelines of natural gas by the city management. Currently, landfill gas is consumed on very small scale as most of them have been consumed because of the low price of natural gas and the biogas which is high priced gas is out of competition. There are certain crops which may be turned into various liquid fuels as ethanol and methanol. Examples of such crops include wheat and corn. Consumption of ethanol to fuel the motors is as old as the use of automobiles themselves. During the 20th century, Henry Ford, pioneer of automobile manufacturing, was in favor of consuming gasohol to fuel the cars.

Gasohol is the combination of ethanol and gasoline. Alcohol Fuels Currently, it has become a controversy to use ethanol thanks to its high cost. The price of ethanol is twice of the price of oil in the market. Despite of being high priced product, the consumption of ethanol has kept growing thanks to the federal highway tax exemption by US federal Government. Since to consume ethanol, the automobile engines have to be modified, the cars are run on gasohol in which case such modification does not need. Combination of ethanol 10% and gasoline 90% makes gasohol. Gasohol is used as much as 50% in some states where corn is grown in abundance.

Gasohol has advantageous character; it consists of more octane which provide more power to engine and it is clean to burn and emits less carbon monoxide. The non-oil producing countries may switch off their dependence on foreign oil by shifting their system on gasohol (earthsciencebiomass. tripod. com, 2013). Advantages of Biomass Energy Biomass is modern source of power. The use of wood has always been a source of heating but the biomass is few steps ahead of this.

The energy crops are produced for fuelling the power plants and running the wheels. Following are important advantages; Emission Does Not Harm The emission of biomass energy is not harmful carbon dioxide. There are environmental concerns regarding the emission of carbon dioxide as people working for environmental protection are of the view that the emission of carbon dioxide maligns the ozone. By employing biomass, the environment may be protected from malignant carbon dioxide emission. Clean Energy Since the use of biomass is clean, the US Government encourages its use by allowing tax credit when it is used by corporate sector. It has two-fold advantages; it saves environment and it gives saves money. Biomass adopts go and take mechanism.

There is also carbon dioxide emission, but during the growth of products of biomass the emission is captured for photosynthesis process. While in case of fossil fuels, the harmful emission remains in the atmosphere. Renewability and Abundance The source of biomass products is the environment of the earth which facilitates life. Unless the sun cools down, there no chance that the sources of biomass run out. Thus, the sources of biomass are renewable and abundant. In UK, chicken wastages are the source of biomass energy while in US and Russia, the forests are in abundance for generation of biomass energy.

Reduction of Dependence on Fossil oil

Biomass energy helps in reducing the dependence on the fossil fuel. In large part of the world where there is no local natural oil reserves, the states pay heavily in return of foreign oil. Biomass has a role in reduction of such expenditure. Reduction of Landfills The conversion of garbage into useful energy helps in reduction of landfills which are used for garbage. Production of Variety of Biomass Products Thanks to versatility of biomass, different organic substances may be used for the production of different sources of biomass. For example, ethanol may be created by different crops such as corn etc. he earth has abundance of organic substances which means there is no limit of varieties of biomass products.

Disadvantages of Biomass Energy

Costs More Almost all the processes of production of biomass need keen care and more cost. So, the biomass does not compete in the market in present scenario thanks to the cheap price of fossil fuel and natural gas. Deficient as compared other sources; Ethanol is much inefficient source of energy when it comes to comparison with the gasoline. To work anyway, the ethanol is mixed with gasoline which is not comfortable for the user. Ethanol does harm to engine when it has been used for longer term.

Environmental Damages

No doubt some products of biomass do save emission of carbon dioxide but on the other hand it increases another harmful gas, methane, which damages the ozone layer. As far as waste products’ use is concerned, it makes the environment unpleasantly smelly. Consumption of More Fuel; A nation full of modern infrastructure and vehicles, to shift the system on biomass, the resources of biomass will finish soon as it is inefficient source as earlier discussed. More Land Area Is Required; The burning of biomass products needs vast area to save the residential area from its impacts.

So the biomass consumption occupies more land which does not suit when the earth is already under the intense use thanks to the increased population (conserve-energy-future. com, 2013). Why Biomass? Biomass is an important renewable source of energy. It performs two fold functions. On the one hand it adopts cyclical trend of life which means the source will never end. And, on the other hand it reduces the carbon dioxide emission. Even, during the growth of energy crops, the carbon dioxide is captured during the photosynthesis. Such carbon dioxide is converted into sugar.

In many respects the biomass is an ideal source of energy as it may be made locally because input is available to every nation in abundance. It reduces the dependence on the fossil fuel which is not renewable source and its reserves are declining. The disposal of wastage in very useful output is another importance making us to use biomass. India is very big consumer of biomass of which major portion makes domestic consumption. In industry consumption, US top (earthsciencebiomass. tripod. com, 2013). Biomass Energy Processes Biomass energy is produced by combustion or by chemical conversion of organic substances.


Generation of heat by biomass products in which they are converted into energy is called combustion process. It is simplest process of biomass energy (Painter, 2013). Co-Firing Process; In co-firing process, almost 15% to 20% of the coal is replaced by the biomass which is to be consumed in the plant. It reduces the operational costs and the gas emissions. Usually switch grass is used in this process. This process is more deficient. Thermal Conversion; In thermal conversion process, the heat is used for the extraction of energy by modifying the biomass into various chemicals by adopting different chemical reactions with oxygen.


When the conversion of carbon substances into hydrogen and carbon monoxide is taken place in gasification process, the extreme temperature is used and quantity of oxygen and steam is controlled. In gasification process, the efficient product syngas is made. Pyrolysis; Heating the biomass in the absence of oxygen is called pyrolysis. Biomass pyrolysis products include; firstly charcoal; secondly tar; thirdly oil; and fourthly gases which include carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen and carbon monoxide.


Thermo-chemical processing by the employment of heat is called torrefaction for production of biomass in which 200 to 320 degree Celsius is needed. Oxygen and any moisture are removed from the biomass and what is left is called volatile matter. The outcome of the process is bio-coal which is less smoky. It is used for industrial and domestic needs of industry. Chemical Conversion; Biomass Oils; The products such as corn, soybeans, sugar cane etc may be turned into the form of liquid replacing the diesel and gasoline. Biodiesel is also made from the cooking oil collected from the restaurants.


To break down the plant’s chemical structure, the non-combustion process needs heating the plant. Such chemicals are any of three forms; solid, gas or liquid; of which some may be consumed directly and other may need further refining process. For instance, for the extraction of methane, a biomass gasifier is needed which forces plants to release the methane which fuel the turbine to generate electricity. To generate electricity, methane is changed into hydrogen which runs generation with little emission. Biochemical; Fermentation employed to convert bioenergy. Ethanol is made from corn by the process of fermentation.


While concluding, it may be said that biomass is one of the best renewable source of energy. As long as the sun is present, the existence of life will continue. And as long as life on the planet is present, the organic substances will continue to grow. The source consists of vegetation and wastes. In case of vegetation, the raw material is present almost all the countries of the world. And, in case of waste products, the waste is produced in abundance thanks to intensive industrial activities and population’s life style. Biomass energy consumption has some disadvantages which may be minimized which need further study.

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Biomass as a Natural Resource of Energy. (2016, Sep 15). Retrieved from

Biomass as a Natural Resource of Energy

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