Biomass can be used to produce renewable electricity, thermal energy, or transportation fuels (Bio fuels). Biomass is defined as living or recently dead organisms and any byproducts of those organisms, plant or animal. The term is generally understood to exclude coal, oil, and other fossilized remnants of organisms, as well as soils. In this strict sense, biomass encompasses all living things. In the context of biomass energy, however, the term refers to those crops, residues, and other biological materials that
The energy stored in biomass can be released to produce renewable electricity or heat. Biopower can be generated through combustion or gasification of dry biomass or biogas (methane) captured through controlled anaerobic digestion. Cofiring of biomass and fossil fuels (usually coal) is a low-cost means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving cost-effectiveness, and reducing air pollutants in existing power plants. Thermal energy (heating and cooling) is often produced at the scale of the individual building, through direct combustion of wood
A number of transportation fuels can be produced from biomass, helping to alleviate demand for petroleum products and improve the greenhouse gas emissions profile of the transportation sector. Ethanol from corn and sugarcane, and biodiesel from soy, rapeseed, and oil palm dominate the current market for biofuels, but a number of companies are moving forward aggressively to develop and market a number of advanced second-generation biofuels made from non-food feedstocks, such as municipal waste, algae, perennial grasses, and wood chips.
Just as biomass can substitute for fossil fuels in the production of energy, it can also provide a renewable substitute for the many industrial products and materials made from petroleum or natural gas – biobased foams, plastics, fertilizers, lubricants, and industrial chemicals are a few of the possibilities. Biomass Feedstocks Every region has its own locally generated biomass feedstocks from agriculture, forest, and urban sources. A wide variety of biomass feedstocks are available and biomass can be produced anywhere that plants or animals
Like wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources, biomass can make a positive impact on our atmosphere by lessening our dependence on climate change-inducing fossil fuels. Biomass energy differs from other renewables, however, in the extent to which its use is directly tied to the farms, forests, and other ecosystems from which biomass feedstocks are obtained. Because of this close association, the use of biomass has the potential to result in a wide range of environmental and social impacts, both