what is biomass energy
collection of trees and shrubs that has not been harvested for timber or other uses in about 200 years, although definitions vary. Growing enough corn for ethanol also creates a strain on the environment because of the lack of variation in planting, and the high use of pesticides. An enormous plant under construction near Port Talbot, Wales, for instance, will require fossil fuels imported from North America, offsetting some of the sustainability of the enterprise.Biomass has a lower “energy density” than fossil fuels. Some of the most important biomass sources are wood and agricultural products, ranging from plants that are farmed especially for the production of energy to the waste plant matter that results from the agricultural industry. chemical compound that is the basic ingredient of natural gas. It is exchanged through photosynthesis, decomposition, respiration, and human activity. National Geographic Headquarters chemical process where biomass is heated and dried to be used in combustion or gasification. This plant will eventually be able to convert more than 350,000 tons of MSW into enough energy to power 50,000 homes.Anaerobic DecompositionAnaerobic decomposition is the process where microorganisms, usually bacteria, break down material in the absense of oxygen. Crude oil, gasoline, heating oil, diesel, propane, and other liquids including biofuels and natural gas liquids. Greenhouse gas data, voluntary reporting, electric power plant emissions. The chemical material (organic compounds of carbons) are stored and can then be used to generate energy. to heat something by placing it over boiling water. Join our community of educators and receive the latest information on National Geographic's resources for you and your students. machine that converts one type of energy to another, such as mechanical energy to electricity. During slash-and-char, the charred plants (biochar) are returned to the soil, and the soil retains 50% of its carbon. palm oil8. Biomass energy is much healthier for the planet than non-renewable energy sources such as coal. You cannot download interactives. However, over time, there has been a shift in demand for cheaper and cleaner fuel options, such as the nonrenewable energy source of natural gas, and renewable options like solar power and wind energy. Biomass is the World’s Oldest Source of Energy. More recently, Sweden has experimented in gasifying black liquor to produce syngas, which can then be used to generate electricity. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that biomass has the potential to produce 40 million tons of hydrogen per year. Regional energy information including dashboards, maps, data, and analyses. process by which microbes such as bacteria decompose organic material in the absence of oxygen. Green Energy in the Green Mountain StateThe first American biomass gasification plant opened near Burlington, Vermont, in 1998. Wood is still the largest biomass energy resource today. Biomass is a renewable resource that uses wood and plant waste, agricultural waste, energy crops, organic waste and garbage to generate low-carbon energy. Biomass is one of the most plentiful and well-utilised sources of renewable energy in the world. Plants are autotrophs, which means they produce their own food. Co-firing eliminates the need for new factories for processing biomass. Liquid biofuels (ethanol and biomass-based diesel) account for most of the transportation sector's biomass consumption. It is then compressed into briquettes. During torrefaction, biomass is heated to about 200° to 320° Celsius (390° to 610° Fahrenheit). (singular: bacterium) single-celled organisms found in every ecosystem on Earth. Reports requested by congress or otherwise deemed important. Industrial gasification plants are being built all over the world. It takes decades for trees and plants such as switchgrass to re-absorb and sequester carbon. When you reach out to him or her, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource. process by which plants turn water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide into water, oxygen, and simple sugars. A chemical conversion process known as transesterification is used for converting vegetable oils, animal fats, and greases into fatty acid methyl esters (FAME), which are used to produce biodiesel. These are called biomass feedstock s. Biomass energy can also be a non-renewable energy source. The resulting ‘bioenergy’ or ‘biofuel’ can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels and is considered to be far more environmentally friendly than traditional energy sources. (singular: alga) diverse group of aquatic organisms, the largest of which are seaweeds. All these types of biomass contain energy, because they’re organic materials. This is the big hole in the claim that biomass is a clean energy solution. dark, solid fossil fuel mined from the earth. gas in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and ozone, that absorbs solar heat reflected by the surface of the Earth, warming the atmosphere. Direct combustion is the most common method for converting biomass to useful energy. Includes hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and ethanol. Algae has enormous potential as an alternative energy source. However, that’s insignificant compared with fossil fuels. The carbon cycle takes many forms. Maps, tools, and resources related to energy disruptions and infrastructure. As it is replenished, it releases oxygen, and absorbs pollutants and carbon emissions. However, there is a debate as to whether this technology will become sustainable or economically possible. Plants produce biomass through photosynthesis. soy6. Also called biocrude or bio-oil. Non-renewable energy comes from sources that will eventually run out, such as oil and coal. If trees and crops are sustainably farmed, they can offset carbon emissions when they absorb carbon dioxide through respiration. People and BiomassAdvantagesBiomass is a clean, renewable energy source. full of tiny holes, or able to be permeated by water. Biomass briquettes are very hydrophobic, meaning they repel water. manufactured by people, not occurring naturally. When biochar is added back to the soil, it can continue to absorb carbon and form large underground stores of sequestered carbon—carbon sinks—that can lead to negative carbon emissions and healthier soil.Biochar also helps enrich the soil. DisadvantagesIf biomass feedstocks are not replenished as quickly as they are used, they can become non-renewable. Also called a primeval forest, primary forest, primal forest, or ancient woodland. coal, oil, or natural gas. Subscribe to feeds for updates on EIA products including Today in Energy and What's New. Algae takes up much less space than other biofuel crops. These stoves have an energy efficiency of only 10%, so 90% of the biomass burnt is wasted. If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to obtain a license. small, molded block of charcoal or biomass. Biomass refers to the organic material that is used for production of energy. Biomass is also a significant source of heating in many households. Other sources include food crops, grassy and woody plants, residues from agriculture or forestry, … PyrolysisPyrolysis is a related method of heating biomass. If you burn biomass, the energy is released as heat. amount of energy stored in a system or area. process using heat to convert biomass into usable energy. Biomass is primarily found in the form of living or recently living plants and biological wastes from industrial and home use. Also called garbage or trash. Ethanol has become a popular substitute for wood in residential fireplaces. Pyrolysis oil, sometimes called bio-oil or biocrude, is a type of tar. Andrew Turgeon What is Biomass Energy? Maps by energy source and topic, includes forecast maps. Biomass—renewable energy from plants and animals Biomass is renewable organic material that comes from plants and animals. BiocharBiochar, produced during pyrolysis, is valuable in agricultural and environmental use.When biomass rots or burns (naturally or by human activity), it releases high amounts of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Using gasification technology from GE Energy, the farm is able to convert chicken manure into 14,600 megawatt-hours of electricity per year. Biomass is renewable organic material that comes from plants and animals. toxic waste material produced as wood is converted into pulp at paper mills, later recycled in the paper-making process. Many hous… Biological conversion includes fermentation to convert biomass into ethanol and anaerobic digestion to produce renewable natural gas. Sustainability Policy | Biomass can also be co-fired, or burned with a fossil fuel. Scientists and engineers estimate that it is not economically efficient to transport biomass more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) from where it is processed. Gas molecules are in constant, random motion. During torrefaction, biomass becomes a dry, blackened material. Also called crude oil. U.S. Energy Information Administration, 1000 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20585, Biofuels: Ethanol and Biomass-based diesel, Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). It can take 900 years for just a meter (3 feet) of peat to replenish itself.Most biomass requires arable land to develop. Code of Ethics. Burning either fossil fuels or biomass releases carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas. Biomass is a renewable energy source not only because the energy in it comes from the sun, but also because biomass can re-grow over a relatively short period of time compared with the thousands of years that it took for fossil fuels to form. items thrown away or discarded. Ethanol requires acres of farmland to grow biocrops (usually corn). Algal FuelAlgae is a unique organism that has enormous potential as a source of biomass energy. It can be combusted to generate electricity and is also used as a component in other fuels and plastics. Learn more about this vital process with these classroom resources. If these pollutants are not captured and recycled, burning biomass can create smog and even exceed the number of pollutants released by fossil fuels. Fossil fuels do not re-absorb carbon.In contrast to fossil fuels, biomass comes from recently living organisms. Biomass is organic plant or animal matter that can be used to generate energy. The biomass dries out so completely that it loses the ability to absorb moisture, or rot. large farm on which livestock are raised. Biomass is organic, meaning it is made of material that comes from living organisms, such as plants and animals. jatropha7. Carbon sinks are reservoirs for carbon-containing chemicals, including greenhouse gases. One of the best ways to extract energy from once-living plant matter is to burn it. Scientists and engineers are studying pyrolysis oil as a possible alternative to petroleum.Syngas can be converted into fuel (such as synthetic natural gas). Biomass energy, sometimes known as ‘bio energy’, is the energy that is derived from organic matter of plants and animals. International energy information, including overviews, rankings, data, and analyses. facility where paper is manufactured from pulp or wood. The most familiar biomass feedstocks for thermal conversion are raw materials such as municipal solid waste (MSW) and scraps from paper or lumber mills. Peat can be dried and burned as fuel. Coal, one of humankind’s earliest fuel sources, is still used today to generate electricity. These can be wood, leaves, pellets, fecal wastes, and other organic matters. There are abundant biomass materials to produce electricity cost-effectively. Fossil fuels formed from the remains of ancient plants and animals. The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The commercial sector also consumes, and in some cases, sells renewable natural gas produced at municipal sewage treatment facilities and at waste landfills. Biomass is a term we use to describe the production of energy or fuel from organic matter. It also forms in and may be captured from solid waste landfills. annual U.S. energy consumption until the mid-1800s, International data on electricity generation from biomass, Agricultural crops and waste materials—corn, soybeans, sugar cane, switchgrass, woody plants, and algae, and crop and food processing residues, Direct combustion (burning) to produce heat, Thermochemical conversion to produce solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels, Chemical conversion to produce liquid fuels, Biological conversion to produce liquid and gaseous fuels. The wood products and paper industries use biomass in combined heat and power plants for process heat and to generate electricity for their own use. canola10. Biochar is used in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest in a process called slash-and-char. Until the 1930s, black liquor from paper mills was considered a waste product and dumped into nearby water sources. Co-firing also eases the demand for coal. It can generate electricity, produce liquid fuels, and even create a form of natural gas. Both are thermal decomposition processes in which biomass feedstock materials are heated in closed, pressurized vessels called gassifiers at high temperatures. Energy & Financial Markets: What Drives Crude Oil Prices? miscanthus, switchgrass), wood or forest residues, waste from food crops (wheat straw, bagasse), horticulture (yard waste), … The most common biomass materials used for energy are plants, wood, and waste. carbon compound (such as carbon dioxide) released into the atmosphere, often through human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels such as coal or gas. When prehistoric humans first harnessed the power of fire, we started using biomass energy. Different types of energy are created through direct firing, co-firing, pyrolysis, gasification, and anaerobic decomposition. It can also be converted into methane and used as a replacement for natural gas. The carbon cycle is the process by which carbon is exchanged between all layers of the Earth: atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere. In order to effectively allow Earth to continue the carbon cycle process, however, biomass materials such as plants and forests have to be sustainably farmed. renewable energy derived from living or recently living organisms, mostly plants. Biomass uses organic material to produce energy in a variety of different ways. This methane can replace fossil fuels.In addition to landfills, anaerobic decomposition can also be implemented on ranches and livestock farms. Sign up for email subcriptions to receive messages about specific EIA products. Its initial energy comes from the sun, and plants or algae biomass can regrow in a relatively short amount of time. It is known as Natural Material.Plants used up a lot of the sun’s energy to make their food (photosynthesis). However, black liquor retains more than 50% of the wood’s biomass energy. Biochar is a carbon-rich solid that is particularly useful in agriculture. dark, sticky petroleum product created from the decomposition of organic material such as wood. All biomass can be burned directly for heating buildings and water, for industrial process heat, and for generating electricity in steam turbines. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. repelling or unable to dissolve in water. Biological wastes from industrial and home use co-firing, pyrolysis, biomass decays produces. Part of Earth ’ s Amazon rain forest in a system or area and human.... And replenished as a source of total annual U.S. energy consumption until the mid-1800s term getting! Biomass has the same uses as fossil fuel formed from the decomposition of organic compounds of carbons ) are to! 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