How Does Biomass Work To Produce Alternative Energy
We have been hearing a lot about the use of biomass materials as a source of energy. This is a good thing because now, we have more and more ways to generate alternative energy so that we can significantly reduce the demand and use for non renewable resources like fossil fuels. It is utterly important for all of us to take action and find alternative energy source. Now, the question is, how does biomass work?
What happens is that biomass materials like agricultural waste, municipal waste, by products from lumber industry, wood, animal manure and even yard clippings are collected. These are then processed so that it can be converted to various forms of usable energy.
How does biomass energy work? Biomass materials do not always produce energy directly. This means that the conversion and processes that it goes through are necessary in producing energy. Biomass energy is generated when the biomass materials are turned to biofuels like densified biomass and ethyl fuel.
The chemical composition of biomass is what makes it an efficient source of energy. Biomass contains carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. There are also traces of other gas like nitrogen but this is minimal. Other atoms like alkali, alkaline earth and heavy metals can also be fund within biomass materials.
For plant biomass there are six components that make up its chemical composition. These are the following:
1 - cellulose
2 - hemicellulose
3 - lignin
4 - water soluble sugars like amino acids and aliphatic acids
5 - ether and alcohol soluble constituents like fats, oils and waxes
6 - proteins.
The proportion and percentage of those components in plant biomass may vary depending on the type and group of plants.
Biomass can be easily used as a source of alternative energy if proper conversion is done. There are various methods that have been developed so that biomass can be converted. Understanding the following processes will make it easier to answer the question: How does biomass work so that energy may be produced?
Thermal conversion, as the name suggests, uses heat as a primary component in processing biomass materials so that it can be changed to a chemical form. Common thermal conversions include combustion, torrefaction, pyrolysis and gasification. The difference between these four processes is defined depending on the amount of heat used. Another determinant is the oxygen present in the atmosphere while the biomass materials are being processed. Hence, the chemical reactions vary too.
Aside from combustion, torrefaction, pyrolysis and gasification, scientists and researches also have other ways of doing thermal conversion which leads to hydrothermal upgrading and hydroprocessing.
"Chemical conversion of biomass includes fermentation." This means that biomass plants that have cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin will be processed to come up with ethyl alcohol. This ethyl alcohol will be further subjected to another process with the presence of enzymes so that ethyl fuel may be produced. Ethyl fuel is a type of fuel that can be directly used as energy source. The chemical compositions are altered and converted to produce energy.
Biochemical conversion involves anaerobic digestion and composting. This means that the process involves the use of enzymes, bacteria and other micro organisms so that biomass materials can be broken down. Scientists and researchers are still doing further research on how to break down the components in biomass so that energy may be yielded.