Importance of Biomass as a Fuel of Future


Biomass will be our savior in near future for sure. Even if we have sufficient fossil fuels for now, what after 100 years? Can we promise our next generation the possibility of existence of these fuels? Most probably no. The reason is that at the rate humans have extracted these reservoirs, it will be just impossible to repent it.

Fuel is need for everything and by everyone. You can not be left untouched by it. Yet, the raw material for resources takes thousands of years to become fuels. Hence, fact is that no matter how much we advance, we can not find any way to manufacture these fossil fuels.

Here, Biomass comes to play. Scientists have successfully tested and manufactured biofuels from various plants and animals’ residuals. Since the raw material is renewable, we can not run out of this fuel. Furthermore, due to the chemical properties of these green fuels, they are absolutely non-toxic, 100% biodegradable as well as completely combustible.

In addition to this, they do not even emit any poisonous or greenhouse gas. This means that whatever damage we have done till now to our planet and its environment, we can not and will not take it further. Biomass is organic in every sense and that is why, we can rest assured that fuels generated from it will not cause any damage virtually.

As biomass itself is residual of animals and plants, there will be no need and worry of deforestation. Furthermore, this will lead to more and more employment opportunities in every economy and the dependency of one on another country for fuel needs will come to an end.

Every country can produce bio-fuel from biomass without needing any assistance from anyone else. Not only this; since we can actually decrease and even curb the usage of fossil fuels, we can give them lots of time for recovery and hence, our future generations will be able to breathe in a much cleaner, safer and healthier planet.

Pros or advantages of using Biomass energy

  • The waste products that will be useless otherwise can be used for generating biomass energy and that reduces the cost of fuel.
  • Biomass is very abundant and can be found everywhere on earth in the form of wood, dung or seaweed.
  • Biomass can easily be used to create biofuels, gas, alcohol and electricity.
  • Biomass is very low in sulphur reducing the production of acid rain.
  • As long as we plant equal number of trees that we use in the production of biofuels, biomass energy produces no net CO2 increase.
  • Use of biomass decreses the use of fossil fuels and hence helps in reducing CO2 emmissions.
  • Use of biomass energy results in reduction of methane release in atmosphere. Decomposition of organic matter in nature releases methane. Capturing this methane yields energy while protecting the atmosphere.
  • If maintained and planned well from environment point of view then this is a very vast resource available.

The cons or disadvantages of using Biomass energy

  • Even though considered as safe for environment in comparison to other energies; it is still unsafe and pollutes the atmosphere.
  • The resource used for the biomass energy is organic resource such as wood and so to increase the fuel production and decrease cost, mankind will keep on destroying forests and cutting trees.
  • Some fossil fuel maybe used in production of biofuel and its transportation. This fossil fuel consumption may offset or even eliminate any carbon advantage in some cases.
  • Installation of biomass plant requires a lot of space. We may not have sufficient space to set up biomass plants.

As you’ve seen there are several pros and cons of biomass energy which make it an energy resource that needs to be used with care. Prudent forest management and cost analysis of every project will ensure that we can use this energy in a benificial way.  It will however never completely provide our energy needs, but it certainly is a good addition to our energy mix.

Can Biomass Add or Reduce Global Warming?

Albeit the Biomass is a source of renewal energy, yet its usage can still contribute to the global warming at a state where the equilibrium of natural carbon is disrupted by cutting down trees and converting forests into concrete area. However, Biomass can help reducing the global warming to a greater extent because it offers following advantages…

  • Biomass can significantly decrease the usage of fossil fuels and reduce the addition of new CO2 the environment.
  • Since biomass absorbs CO2 in its growth, which is same as the released quantity when consumed as fuel, it does not add CO2 to atmosphere.
  • Same infrastructure, as the one used by fossil fuels, can be used by biomass to produce electricity
  • The cost of producing Biomass fuel is much cheaper than the cost of fossil fuels.
  • Biomass based power source cast lesser burden on the natural resources as compared the traditional source of energy coming from use of fossil fuel.
  • Global warming is control by reduction in emission of greenhouse gas.
  • Lastly, biomass can reduce dependence on other countries for fuels.

Global warming reduction requires sensible use of resources and biomass is based on sensible use of waste product.

Biofuel Types and Production

There are different kinds of biofuels depending on the type of plant that is used to produce it. Some major types are:-

Algae fuel is a next generation biofuel which is derived from algae. Hybrid algae variety with high oil quantity and high growth rate is cultivated in preferably barren land and later converted into biofuel. Saline water can also be used to cultivate Algae so making it idea crop for cultivation in areas not suitable for farming.

Hemp Biofuels: Hemp Biofuels are obtained from the hemp seeds which are commonly harvested using strong hemp variety. These seeds are then converted to biofuels.  Bio-fuels have many advantages over conventional fuels. The major factor being the production in the very locality and hence no transportation cost is included. This will also create good number of employment opportunities in the rural areas and they can also be effectively transformed into electrical form too.

Ethanol is another biofuel that is extracted from molasses ( a byproduct of sugar production). Molasses are mostly used, after extraction of sugar, for biofuel ethanol or by breweries. The actual process of its production involves fermentation and distillation of starch crops. However, nearly 17% of the energy needed for the production of ethanol is actually obtained from the traditional liquid fuels viz; gasoline, liquid diesel etc.

Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. Biodiesel can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually mixed with gasoline and used by vehicles fleets. Biodiesel is known for the exploitation of the amount of carbon which is naturally circulating in the midst of biosphere and atmosphere, and hence there is no addition of carbon content.

Biomass Energy is produced from organic waste produced by human, animal or plant activity. Biomass processing results in the end-products biochemicals, biofuels, and biopower, all of which can be used as fuel sources.

Wood pellet is cheaper compared to other fuels and also safe for environment because of its no carbon emission. Pellets themselves are made up of byproduct and that is why you need not worry about trees cutting especially for pellets. This adds to the low cost of this source. Pellets are compressed and that is why they are dense in nature. This leads to additional efficiency as well as less storage area required.

There are lot of ways where once can utilize energy with new resources unlike the traditional manner and biomass is just proving the same.

Riya Menon
Latest posts by Riya Menon (see all)