In the search for new energies that allow us to free ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels, one of the energy sources that has taken a renewed role has been biomass and all the forms in which it can appear. It is an energy that, although it is not completely clean, it is presented as renewable energy and that allows a quite attractive balance of gas emissions. If you want to know more about this type of fuel, keep reading AgroCorrn in which we explain what biomass energy is and what it is for .
- What is biomass energy
- What types of biomass exist
- Biomass energy: clean or polluting?
- Why is biomass not considered a clean energy?
- Advantages of biomass energy
- Operation of the biomass boiler
What is biomass energy
Biomass is a fuel that is obtained from organic matter . Its name derives from the prefix “bio” (life) and the word mass. That is to say, “living matter”. In this way, biomass is a type of fuel that is characterized by being made from organic matter. Although many times we think that biomass only refers to that obtained with wood as fuel , the reality is that there are many other types. Next we will talk about the different types of biomass.
What types of biomass exist
In reality, there are as many types of biomass as you want to make. When it comes to biomass, reference is usually made to organic fuels obtained from wood. The most common example of all are “pellets”, which are wood chips obtained from the waste of the wood industry and which are pressed into small cylinders smaller than that of an alkaline battery. These pellets are sold in bags, which are used as fuel for biomass boilers, which are the equipment where it is burned to obtain energy that can be used in different ways.
However, in addition to pellets, there are many other types of biomass . In fact, if we think of firewood (the same one used to light fireplaces), the only thing we are doing is thinking of the oldest biomass of all, the one that humans have been using to heat themselves since prehistoric times.
On the other hand, in addition to pellets and firewood, biomass can be obtained from any organic matter that, once it has dried, burns easily. In this way, biomass can be obtained from:
- The remains of the food.
- From waste from the agricultural industry.
- From the excrement of herbivorous animals.
Biomass energy: clean or polluting?
Biomass is a renewable energy because it is not depleted, it can be infinitely obtained from the natural resources offered by organic life. However, it is not totally clean energy.
When biomass is burned it produces two types of waste: ash and gases . Since the ashes are the result of the combustion of organic matter, many of these ashes can be used as natural fertilizers or even in the manufacture of cements or to fight against oil slicks (since they have the ability to adhere to crude oil). quite easily).
Gases are the other type of waste generated by biomass, there are different types, but the one that stands out above any other is CO2 (the main one of all the gases responsible for the greenhouse effect). Thus, when faced with the question of whether it is clean energy, the correct answer is that no, biomass is not clean energy . However, this statement must be qualified, and then we are going to explain it to you.
Why is biomass not considered a clean energy?
The nuances we talked about before can be found in the way it is manufactured. It must be taken into account that, to obtain biomass, it is first necessary to plant vegetables (especially trees) that serve as the basis for producing biomass in its different forms. In this way, although CO2 is released during biomass combustion, it must be taken into account that, to produce this biomass, it has previously been necessary for a large amount of CO2 (which was already present in the atmosphere) to be absorbed by the plants for their growth. Thus, although biomass generates CO2 in its combustion , it also destroys CO2 during its production . For this reason, many people speak of an energy with a “neutral carbon footprint”In other words, it does not reduce the amount of CO2 present in the atmosphere, but neither does it increase it.
Taking this into account, it is inevitable that we ask ourselves a question, but wouldn’t it be better if these trees are not cut down to make biomass and continue to produce oxygen? Of course yes. But the reality is that biomass is obtained from plantations that are developed expressly for this purpose, never from primary forests (those that have grown naturally and without human influence). In other words, if it were not for biomass, they would not be planted, so the level of CO2 in the atmosphere would not be reduced with this activity.
Advantages of biomass energy
The main advantage of biomass over other types of energy is that, although as we have already said that it is not completely clean, it is considerably cleaner than when using fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and that, in addition , has a very high calorific value. This places it as a good transition energy , that is, a useful energy between highly polluting and completely clean. In other words, if we burn biomass instead of diesel, the impact on the environment will be considerably less.
However, the advantages of biomass become clear when compared to fossil fuels. In the event that we make this comparison with completely clean and renewable energies, such as solar or wind energy, biomass energy would be in a clear second place.
Operation of the biomass boiler
A biomass boiler is the equipment in which biomass is burned to obtain energy that can be used to satisfy human needs (from heating radiators and the water that comes out of the tap to producing electricity).
There are different types of biomass boilers . The largest are intended for electricity production, and depending on their size, they allow the generation of energy to meet the energy needs of various homes. While the smallest are those that are usually associated with individual homes and domestic use. They are the ones that allow you to enjoy hot water and heating in a single home and, if you have more advanced equipment, also electricity for the home itself.
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