What is Biomass?
Biomass fuels come from things that once lived: wood products, dried vegetation, crop residues, aquatic plants, and even garbage. It is known as Natural Material. Plants used up a lot of the sun’s energy to make their food (photosynthesis). They stored the foods in the plants in the form of chemical energy. As the plants and animals died, the energy remained trapped in the residue. This trapped energy is usually released by burning and can be converted into biomass energy.
Wood is a biomass fuel. It is renewable. As long as we continue to plant new trees to replace those that were cut down, we will always have wood to burn. Just as with fossil fuels, the energy stored in biomass fuels came originally from the Sun.
It is such a widely utilized source of energy, probably due to its low cost and indigenous nature, that it accounts for almost 15% of the world’s total energy supply and as much as 35% in developing countries, mostly for cooking and heating.
How is biomass converted into energy?
This is a common way of converting organic matter into energy. Burning stuff like a wood, waste, and other plant matter releases stored chemical energy in the form of heat, which can be used to turn shafts to produce electricity. Let’s see this simple illustration of how biomass is used to generate electricity.
1. Energy from the sun is transferred and stored in plants. When the plants are cut or die, wood chips, straw, and other plant matter is delivered to the bunker.
2. This is burned (combustion) to heat water in a boiler to release heat energy (steam).
3. The steam from the boiler is directed to turn turbines.
4. The turbine, which are made of coils and magnets spins to generate electricity
5. The charged magnetic fields produce electricity, which is sent to homes by cables.
Other ways in which organic matter can be converted into energy include:
Things that can rot, like garbage, human and animal waste, dead animals, and the like, can be left to rot, releasing a gas called biogas (also known as methane gas or landfill gas). Methane can be captured by a machine called Microturbine and converted into electricity. Sometimes, animal waste (poop) can also be converted into methane by a machine called ‘Anaerobic Digester’
Ethanol can be produced from crops with lots of sugars, like corn and sugarcane. The process used to produce ethanol is called gasification.