Biomass – Is Burning It Bad For The Environment?

When talking about renewable energy sources, one must not forget about biomass. While the name sounds a little “high tech”, it’s actually the oldest form of heating. Biomass actually refers to biological material that is either living or recently dead. When referring to it in the renewable energy sense, we are typically talking about plant matter. The most common example that comes to mind is burning wood.
Indeed, up until about a hundred years ago wood was the primary heating source for man. Many people still used it today in wood stoves in their home as well as the newer and more environmentally friendly wood pellet stoves.
Biomass, being plant matter, is renewable because you can simply plant more of the trees or what ever biological material you are using. If used responsibly, you would never run out of your supply and it is renewable because you would always be planting new trees to replace the ones you used to produce energy.
However, biomass is a part of the carbon cycle and burning it releases carbon dioxide into the air. If used properly, it can be a carbon neutral fuel though because the living plants actually absorb carbon dioxide. So if you are planting as many new plants as you are burning, then you will have a neutral effect when it comes to carbon dioxide.
Biomass doesn’t have to refer to just plants though it can also be animal matter too. Even garbage could be considered biomass but I don’t think you’d want to burn it in your wood stove! Yet, you don’t have to burn biomass to release its energy – it can be converted into methane or ethanol or even by biodiesel.
When it comes to greenhouse gases, this can be a very good thing because methane, which is released in our landfills, dairies and cattle feed lots, has 21 times the global warming potential that carbon dioxide has. Therefore, collecting the methane and using it for energy production could reduce harmful green house gases which contribute to global warming.
Biomass fuel has another advantage as it is very versatile. Unlike wind or solar power which can only be stored as electricity in batteries or used right away, biomass can be made into a gas for heating and burning, a liquid for fueling cars or even a bricklike briquette like charcoal.
With our supply of fossil fuels quickly running out, you will probably be hearing more and more about research being done on how to harness the green, renewable energy of biomass fuels.

Written By:- Unknown Author


Leave a Reply