Biomass Energy 101

Biomass is a renewable fuel and is considered CO2-neutral. Our biomass technology solves serious problems by protecting the earth and atmosphere from greenhouse gas emissions. Today we can recover energy from biomass in highly efficient energy plants – generating heat, process steam, electricity, syngas, and/or bio-oil. Most of our biomass energy solutions are combined heat and power (CHP). In addition, the increased utilization of biomass-based fuels will be instrumental in safeguarding the environment, generation of new job opportunities, sustainable development and health improvements in rural areas.

Wood is still the largest biomass energy resource today, but other sources of biomass can also be used. These include food crops, grassy and woody plants, residues from agriculture or forestry, animal waste, oil-rich algae, and the organic component of municipal and industrial wastes. Which combustion technology is appropriate for you also depends on the type of biomass available in your area. Most frequently our clients have one main type of biomass, but would like the option of using other types if necessary or desirable. Our technology can be adjusted to fit your needs.

Biomass has become one of the most commonly used renewable sources of energy in the last two decades, second only to hydropower in the generation of electricity. 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. Biomass has to be considered in the search for an alternative source of energy that is abundant in a wide-scale yet non-disruptive manner, since it is capable of being implemented at all levels of society.

The development of efficient biomass handling technology, improvement of agro-forestry systems and establishment of small and large-scale biomass-based power plants can play a major role in sustainable development of rural as well as urban areas. Biomass energy could also aid in modernizing the agricultural economy and creating significant job opportunities.

Harvesting practices remove only a small portion of branches and tops leaving sufficient biomass to conserve organic matter and nutrients. Moreover, the ash obtained after combustion of biomass compensates for nutrient losses by fertilizing the soil periodically in natural forests as well as fields. The impact of forest biomass utilization on the ecology and biodiversity has been found to be insignificant. In fact, forest residues are environmentally beneficial because of their potential to replace fossil fuels as an energy source.

Some biomass needs pre-treatment before the fuel is fed onto a combustion grate where it is burned. The heat from the combustion is used to fire the boiler, which in turn generates hot water or steam. The steam turns a turbine that produces electricity. Today, there are a large number of plants, each of which uses different types of biomass to produce energy. Some exclusively use sawdust, straw, others wood chips, and still others have taken a step further and now fire with multi-fuel – a mixture of various kinds of biomass, agricultural and animal waste, and certain types of refuse-derived fuels (RDF).

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