What is Biomass ? How to Find it?
Find Biomass is any organic matter-wood, crops, seaweed, animal wastes-that can be used as an energy source. Biomass is probably our oldest source of energy. For thousands of years, people have burned wood to heat their homes and cook their food.
Find Biomass gets its energy from the sun. All organic matter contains stored energy from the sun. During a process called photosynthesis, sunlight gives plants the energy they need to convert water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into oxygen and sugars. The sugars, called carbohydrates, supply plants (or the animals that eat plants) with energy. Foods rich in carbohydrates (like spaghetti) are a good source of energy for the human body!
Biomass is a renewable energy source because its supplies are not limited. We can always grow trees and crops, and people will always produce garbage.
Using Biomass Energy
Usually, we burn wood and use its energy for heating. Burning, though, is not the only way to convert biomass energy into a usable energy source. There are four ways:
We can bum biomass in special plants to produce steam for making electricity, or we can burn it to provide heat for industries and homes.
Bacteria feed on dead plants and animals, producing a gas called methane. This is a natural process that happens whenever waste decays. Methane is the same thing as natural gas, the gas sold by natural gas utilities.
Adding yeast to biomass produces alcohol called ethanol. This is how wine, beer, and liquor are made. Wine is just fermented grape juice.
Biomass can be converted into gas or liquid fuels by using chemicals or heat. In India, cow manure is converted to methane gas to produce electricity. Methane gas can also be converted to methanol, a liquid form of methane.
Types of Biomass
We use four types of biomass today:
1) wood and agricultural products;
2) solid waste;
3) landfill gas
Wood and Agricultural Biomass
Most biomass used today is homegrown energy. Wood-logs, chips, bark, and sawdust-accounts for about 79 percent of biomass energy. But any organic matter can produce. biomass energy. Other biomass sources include agricultural waste products like fruit pits and corn cobs.
There is nothing new about people burning trash. What’s new is burning trash to generate electricity. This turns waste into a usable form of energy. A ton (2,000 pounds) of garbage contains about as much heat energy, as pounds of coal.
Power plants that burn garbage for energy are called waste-to-energy plants. These plants generate electricity much as coal-fired plants do except that garbage-not coal-is the fuel used to fire an industrial boiler.
Making electricity from garbage costs more than making it from coal and other energy sources. The main advantage of burning solid waste is it reduces the amount of garbage dumped in landfills by 60 to 90 percent and reduces the cost of landfill disposal.
Bacteria and fungi are not picky eaters. They eat dead plants and animals, causing them to rot or decay. Even though this natural process is slowed in the artificial environment of a landfill, a substance called methane gas is still produced as the waste decays.
New regulations require landfills to collect methane gas for safety and environmental reasons. Methane gas is colorless and odorless, but it is not harmless. The gas can cause fires or explosions if it seeps into nearby homes and is ignited.