Biomass energy stacked as fire wood
Biomass Energy is one of the oldest fuel sources around. We have burned wood for a very long time. However today we have much more efficient ways to extract the energy.
Biomass is stored solar energy that man can convert to electricity, fuel or heat. Through photosynthesis the energy from the sun is stored in the chemical bonds of the plant material. Most biomass comes from three sources.
The first source is agriculture crop left over such as corn husks or sugar can stalks. The second source is municipal and industrial waste. And third is from energy plantations. These are farms that grow crops for energy production. Biomass produced 3 percent of our total renewable energy.
What is biomass? Biomass is all plant materials or vegetation. It can be wild or cultivated processed or raw. Prior to the industrial revolution, biomass was used for all of our energy needs. Up until the 1880’s American used wood for 91% of all its energy requirements. It was used for heating and cooking in most homes. It was also used for steam in boats, trains and manufacturing.
Then, in 1890 coal replaced wood for heating. By the 1930’s half of all Americans lives in building heated with coal, but by the 1950’s coal was replaced by electricity and natural gas for heating and lighting. It wasn’t until the 1970’s with higher energy costs did wood and corn become cheaper alternatives.
In 1984 in Burlington VT built a 50 megawatts wood fired plant to make electricity. That’s enough electricity to power 50,000 average homes. The plant was one of many built that year. 1989 pilot trials of direct wood fired gas turbine plants were conducted for the first time in the US and Canada. By the late1990’s there was 190 biomass fired electricity generating facilities outputting 6 gigawatts. That enough to power 6 million homes.
Here it is how biomass works. For the longest time, the easiest way to convert the energy was to burn it. The heat is used directly for heating, cooking and industrial uses or indirectly to make electricity.
The biggest problem with burning is that most of the energy is wasted. Today we have better ways to release the energy. Biomass can be converted into a variety of gaseous, liquid, or solid fuels. These produced can be further refined into alcohol or methane. Some sewage treatment plants and Land fills can capture the methane gas coming off and produce electricity. Currently here are the three best ways.
First up is Thermal chemical. This is when plant material is heated but not burned, it breaks down into various gases liquids and solid fuels. Bio chemical, bacteria, yeasts and enzymes break down the carbohydrates. Then they are fermented into alcohol. When bacteria break down biomass, methane and carbon dioxide are produced. This can be captured in a landfill or sewage treatment plants.
Second is Chemical. Biomass oils like soybean and canola oil can be chemically converted into a liquid fuel similar to diesel fuel. Cooking oil from restaurants can be also used to make bio diesel for trucks.
The third way is Micro algae. It can be farmed to produce bio diesel. New methods have also figured out how to make a jet fuel similar to kerosene. Micro algae can produce 30 – 100 times more oil than soybeans on a similar area.
The US Department of Energy estimated that if algae replaced all the petroleum fuel in the US it would take 15,000 square miles. Which is slightly larger than the state of Maryland. However this is only 1/7 of the area of all the corn harvested in the United States
Some examples of biomass are fast growing trees and shrubs, agricultural residues like used vegetable oil, wheat straw, or corn. Wood waste like paper trash, yard clippings, saw dust or wood chips can be used also. Methane can be also captured from land fills and municipal waste treatment facilities.
The advantages of biomass are these. It recycles animal, food processing and municipal wastes and it reduced the use of landfills. It also creates jobs in rural areas. Plus growing crops help to reduce green house gases by producing oxygen.
However the drawbacks to biomass are these. If you are using food type plants for fuel, it drives up the price of food. Plus more green house gases are produced if you burn it. The collecting, harvesting, and storage of raw biomass materials is expensive and large volumes needed compare to fossil fuels. It is also not as ready to use as other fuels. Some must be chipped or shredded.
Even thou biomass energy does have some unique possibilities. There are much easier ways to do it. A far better way to generate energy is with magnets. This type of technology can be over 100% efficient and is non polluting. This technology is real and being suppressed. Please look around on this website. There are lots of great working examples.
If you would like to know even more, please check out my free energy audio course. It compares all this amazing free energy technology with our current forms of polluting and non polluting sources of energy. Download now for FREE
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