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What is Biomass?

Biomass is a word that has been overused by the fuel and energy industries in recent years and is now becoming a word that can break down into the four F categories, fuel, feed, fiber, and fertilizer.

  1. Ecologically speaking however, biomass is simply the total mass of living organisms in an ecosystem, population or designated area at any given time. This also refers to the culmination of living matter such as in forests.
  2. As a potential energy source, any vegetation or other plant material that can be converted into useful energy, fuel, fiber, feed or fertilizer is highly considered by the new energy generation to be biomass.
  3. Photosynthesis is how the sun naturally stores energy in plants, through chemical bonding of plant materials.

Biomass takes carbon from the atmosphere, thereby storing it in the form of living organic matter and economically converting into electricity, fuel or heat as needed.

Biomass energy most typically comes from such sources as agricultural crop residues, municipal and industrial waste, and energy plantations.

While the department of energy publishes more and more information about biofuel and biodiesel, the more and morethe term biomass begins to refer to stored energy for a more sustainable biofueled tomorrow.

Biomass is very much a part of the carbon cycle. A cycle that is based on sustainable methods, as they are in agreement with todays biology.

Crops such as corn, sugar beets, grains, sugarcane and kelp are all considered energy plantations thatcan be harvested through cogeneration, gasification and fermentation, thereby creating energy and liberating their carbon once again, back into the atmosphere.

Over urbanization into green spaces and deforestation can contribute to Global Warming, therefore the very nature of creating sustainable solutions to biomass is all that more appealing.

The higher the dry yield of materials and the smaller the given plot of land for developing the project the crop will then be able to generate productive energy.

Biomass is used more to describe the variety of materials available and their potential uses rather than specific ones.

  • The word biomass itself comes from two root words, bios Greek for life, course or way of living and Massafrom Latin meaning kneaded dough, lump, that which adheres together like dough.
  • In order to be sustainable, biomass must generate more energy than the production itself does.

Any organic matter that has been out of the carbon cycle for too long such as coal and or petrol canhelp to deteriorate the already fragile infrastructure, usually measured only in dry weight.

According to systems theory, biomass is a very important ingredient for helping our planet breath well.

Not only is biomass used for producing energy, as it is also used in making alternative plastics that are biodegradable and excellent building materials.

While paying attention to deforestation and over-urbanization into green areas, it is important to always keep the continual cycle of replanting new biomass resources in unison with recycling waste products and the continual production of humus as a source of life on earth.

Composting well, avoiding environmental disasters, and always replanting will keep our biomass production sustainable and efficient for future generations to come.

Further Reading:
Characteristics of Biomass
Department of Energy Biomass