Define Biomass Fuel and Understand the Biological Materials Used in Producing It
The use of biomass has to be strengthened so that our dependency to non renewable resources can be cut. With biomass, we no longer have to exhaust the fossil fuels like oil and coal just to be able to produce sufficient energy. The key is for people to know how to use biomass. To have a better understanding of how exactly biomass can be used as an alternative energy resource, the best approach is to properly know how to define biomass fuel.
Biomass makes use of biological and organic matter to produce energy. This includes plants, forest waste, wood, garbage and animal matter. These materials are also called solid biomass or biomatter. When these materials go through various processes like combustion, alcohol fermentation, gasification and landfill gas capture, biomass fuel can be produced. It is best to define biomass fuel as heat and energy that is produced when organic matter is converted.
The definition of biomass fuel may sound confusing for some people because they have the tendency to consider fossil fuel as biomass. Fossil fuels are not biomass because geological process is needed to produce it. There is no way that man can produce fossil fuels like coal and oil. Only the slow and lengthy process of nature can regenerate the supply of fossil fuels. That is also the reason why these non renewable sources are fast depleting. Our demand for it is too high and nature can not create fossil fuels fast enough.
Another aspect that has to be highlighted are the differences between biomass and biofuel. Biofuel is the by product when biomass has been processed. Biomass refers to the biological and organic materials that serve as source of energy. Biofuel can be directly used to provide power. On the other hand biomass is like the raw material that is serves as key for producing alternative energy.
Using a breakthrough process, biomass can be converted to biodiesel. Plants can actually be turned to produce fuel that can provide for man’s need for energy. Traditionally, biodiesel only utilizes the fatty acids that are found in plants. This is only 10 percent of the dried plants and crops and the rest becomes useless. The good news is that scientists and researchers are developing a way of efficiently deriving biodiesel from plants. Even the stems, roots, leaves and fruit can already be converted to heat energy.
The most common biodiesel product is ethanol which can be good source of alternative energy for standard diesel engines. It can be used purely or it can also be mixed with petrodiesel. Alcohol fuels like ethanol can be derived from processing crops like corn and sugar cane. For large scale production, a series of processes has to be done. The crops go through microbial fermentation, distillation, dehydration and denaturing. It may be a tedious and expensive process but the results can definitely produce alternative energy source.
Aside from the crops and plants, biomass energy can also be yielded from landfill gases. The gas emitted from landfills is collected and then utilized as source of energy. The biodegradable materials like municipal waste that are found in landfills can produce biogas. As the materials break down through anaerobic digestion and fermentation, methane and carbon dioxide is produced. There are also traces of hydrogen sulphide, moisture and siloxanes. It can be used as fuel after going through a process of combustion and oxidation. It can then be used for cooking. If it is compressed as a natural gas, it is also capable of providing power for engines.
Knowing how to properly define biomass fuel and understanding the specific details about it can encourage more people to support the use of biomass. This would lead to reduced demand for non renewable energy sources which is beneficial not just for the environment but for humans as well.