How is biomass produced?

Biomass is all the organic materials made from plants and animals.

The word, “bio” means, “life” and the word, “mass” means “all things”. Biomass is a renewable source of energy. Which means, we can use biomass again and again, to generate energy.

Biomass is important because it contains stored energy. How is biomass produced? Well, we know that plants absorb the suns energy during a process called, “photosynthesis”. Stored energy in plants is known as, “chemical energy”. All the biomass like crops, vegetables, and wood, all contain chemical energy.

The photosynthesis process converts the solar energy into biomass energy. However, the photosynthesis process only occurs in green plants. Through a combination of water, light energy and CO2, carbohydrates are formed (sugars, starches, cellulose, etc.,) and oxygen.

The physical conversion process is densification. Densification is the process of increasing the density of biomass which gives more uniform properties with the respect to its raw form. The densification of biomass under high pressure results in mechanical interlocking and increased adhesion/cohesion of the solid particles, which for intermolecular bonds in the contact area. The resulting solid is called a briquette and has an estimated diameter of 30mm in size.

Smaller sizes are commonly called, “pellets”. The major advantage of densification is the reduced cost of transportation to the increased energy density.

Then, you have “direct combustion“, which is the most common method for converting biomass into useful energy. All biomasses can be burned directly to heat water and buildings, industrial process heat and generating electricity in steam turbines.

Biomass can be converted into heat (direct), electricity (direct or processed into biofuel (indirect). You can also use the thermal conversion to use as energy by burning the biomass. Thermal conversion of biomass requires heating the biomass feedstock, so it burns, dehydrates, and stabilizes.

Below, is a link that provides more in-depth knowledge written by National Geographic and contains important information regarding biomass.

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