We explain what biomass is, the types that exist, how it works, advantages and disadvantages. Also, what are renewable energies.
What is biomass?
Biomass is the unit of organic matter that is used as an energy source . This matter can be from animals or plants , including organic waste.
Biomass is cheaper than conventional types of energy , which are produced from fossil fuels. In addition, it is a renewable, safer and cleaner source of energy than traditional fuels because it emits less gases due to its combustion.
Biomass is often used for heating closed spaces, to heat water or to generate electricity or heat . It is used both domestically and industrially.
Types of biomass
Two different types of biomass can be identified, taking into account what elements are used for their production:
Residual biomass It is generated from the waste produced by certain human activities. Some of its benefits are that it helps lower the number of landfills, reduces pollution and the likelihood of fire, and is an economical option. Within the residual biomass two different types are identified:
- Energy crops Energy is produced from crops that were produced especially for it. These crops are characterized by their resistance and their great capacity to adapt to inhospitable soils. In this group are sorghum, sugarcane, cereals, pataca and cynara, among others.
- Agricultural surpluses Grains that were not used as food for animals or people are used as biofuels or for electricity generation. Some surpluses that are used are almond shells, animal bones or the remains of pruning.
Natural . It is produced in natural ecosystems , without the intervention of the human being . Residues from plantations, branches, conifers, firewood, hardwood or the remains of a sawmill can be used. In order not to harm the environment , they should not be used extensively.
Advantages and disadvantages of biomass
Using biomass as an energy source has advantages and disadvantages:
- It is a renewable energy source.
- It helps reduce waste volumes, with the extra benefit of giving them a use.
- It is found in large quantities.
- It does not mean a major impact on the greenhouse effect , since it is neutral in carbon emission.
- It is economical.
- It can benefit rural sectors economically.
- Its scope is still limited.
- Its performance is lower than other types of energy.
- Large land is required for production and for subsequent storage.
- It can put forest areas at risk.
- Its distribution channels do not have sufficient development.
- It may increase the price of some foods that people and animals consume because certain crops are used for the production of this energy source.
- Its energy density is lower than that of fossil fuels .
Examples of biomass
Some of the cases in which the energy source is biomass are the following:
- Remains of oil in the domestic sphere
- Ruminant droppings
- Wine must
- Sugar cane
- Cereals such as sorghum, corn, wheat or barley
- Pruning waste
- Olive Carozos
How does biomass work?
In order for organic residues to become a source of energy, they must undergo a series of biological, thermochemical or mechanical processes . In general, stoves or boilers are used to generate it.
When biomass is transformed and generates electricity, biofuels or heating, there is talk of “bioenergy.” For example, when organic remains are used for heating, bioethanol or biodiesel for the automotive industry, biokerosene for airplanes, steam or heat in the industrial field or biofuels for transport.
Biomass can be the result of processes such as the following:
- Burning . This process is carried out in power plants to generate heat or electricity.
- Digestion . This process is carried out by certain bacteria to produce gases.
- Fermentation . In this process certain organic remains are fermented for fuel generation.
- Heating or gasification . These processes are used to generate electricity or products of different order.
Renewable energies are those that do not use fossil fuels , as is the case with so-called conventional energies. They are those energies that use sources such as wind , sunlight , biomass or water .
One of the features of these energies is that, unlike conventional ones, their impact on the environment is less. In addition, they can be renewed unlimitedly