A Glance at Biomass Energy Technologies

Biomass energy technology is inherently flexible. The variety of technological options available means that it can be applied at a small, localized scale primarily for heat, or it can be used in much larger base-load power generation capacity whilst also producing heat. Biomass generation can thus be tailored to rural or urban environments, and utilized in domestic, commercial or industrial applications.

A wide range of technologies are available for realizing the potential of biomass waste as an energy source, ranging from very simple systems for disposing of dry waste to more complex technologies capable of dealing with large amounts of industrial waste.

Biomass can be converted into energy by simple combustion, by co-firing with other fuels or through some intermediate process such as gasification. The energy produced can be electrical power, heat or both (combined heat and power, or CHP). The advantage of utilizing heat as well as or instead of electrical power is the marked improvement of conversion efficiency – electrical generation has a typical efficiency of around 30%, but if heat is used efficiencies can rise to more than 85%.

 Biochemical processes, like anaerobic digestion, can also produce clean energy in the form of biogas which can be converted to power and heat using a gas engine. In addition, wastes can also yield liquid fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, which can be used to replace petroleum-based fuels. Algal biomass is also emerging as a good source of energy because it can serve as natural source of oil, which conventional refineries can transform into jet fuel or diesel fuel.

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One thought on “A Glance at Biomass Energy Technologies

  1. I read your article with considerable interest as this is a field that I am active in. I must state that I am personally not keen on using primary crops to generate biofuels. I think it is energy intensive, destructive (to the worlds rain forests) and most importantly uses up vital crop growing land that is needed to feed people. Just look at the consequences in many developing countries when food prices rose dramatically a few years ago.

    Where I do believe there is considerable potential, and makes environmental sense is using secondary materials. This can be waste food/agricultural products or even municipal solid waste (msw). This is an area that we have experienced considerable interest in mechanical beiological technologies to take msw and convert it into a stable, homogenous material suitable to be used as a fuel for the biofuel plant. Whether msw or waste agricultural products

    The types of biofuel plants vary quite considerably at present, and so do the type of fuel preparation they require. Some like a dry light fraction – again adeal for an MBT plant that has been producing such solid recovered fuel for cement works for years. Msw also has a few other advantages,
    – the biomass content can be controlled. This means that if you need a certain % of your CV from biomass to obtain higher fuel tarrifs this can be achieved
    – You don’t pay for you raw feedstock, in fact in many countries you get paid to take the msw
    – MBT plants such as those Entsorga supply are well proven and bankable.
    – It is an environmentally very good solution.
    – Currently there are many financial incentives to produce such biofuels.
    – there is some plastic in the msw, clearly as long as this does not impinge on the tarifs it does have a very high CV.

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