Biomass Energy: Definition, Types and Advantages and Disadvantages

What is Biomass Energy?

Biomass energy is energy generated or produced by living or once-living organisms. The most common biomass materials used for energy are plants, such as corn and soy, above. The energy from these organisms can be burned to create heat or converted into electricity.

Definition of biomass

“Biomass is plant or animal material used in various industrial processes as a raw material for energy production (electricity or heat) or a range of products.”


The biomass is a renewable source of energy derived from burning wood and other organic materials. Biomass is one of the oldest forms of energy and has a use for ages. It can also define as biological material from plants and animals.

Biomass consists mostly of stored energy from the sun. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants absorb the sun’s energy and convert it into chemical energy in the form of glucose or sugar.

Therefore, when it is lit, the energy stored in the form of chemical energy released as heat. Burning is the only method for the release of energy in biomass. It can also be converted to other forms that are beneficial such as methane gas and transport fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol. Methane gas is an important component of biogas and it receives agricultural waste, waste, and other organic waste which decomposed into specially design digestion.

It can also obtain from landfills. Than crops such as sugarcane or corn ferment, are know as fuels commonly identify as ethanol that is useful for vehicles. When vegetable oil and animal fats decompose, biodiesel obtains that commonly used as a transport fuel. Biomass considers as the building block of biofuels. They are commonly produced and use as an alternative to fossil fuels. Biomass considered more compensatory than fossil fuels.

Types of Biomass

Some types of biomass fuels are woody fuels, animal waste, agricultural waste, biomass crops, animal waste, dairy manure, dry animal manure, yard waste, mill residues, forest residues, landfill, and alcohol fuels.

Wood waste

Wood and its waste are the best sources of biomass. Its combustion produces heat and steam that can use to generate further electricity. All types of wood, including wood chips, wood chaff, logs, sawdust, and even tree bark, can use to produce the necessary energy.

Animal waste

Animal waste involves animal manure, animal waste, and garbage from livestock. All these can recognize as raw materials for biomass. The dairy industry also contributes to a large extent.

Agricultural waste

Agricultural waste is a major source of raw materials for the biomass industry. Various types of agricultural wastes can use to make energy. Waste can be in the form of sheets, husks, shells, and animal waste. All these come under the renewable energy sources which are also beneficial for the environment. Another important feature of this agricultural waste is that it can use as compost for organic farming and for cooking and heating purposes.

Biomass Crops

Some crops are growing so that they can use for biomass energy. Some of the commonly grown biomass crops are corn varieties for ethanol production and soybean oil for producing biodiesel. The heat generated can utilize to generate electricity.

Dairy manure

Dry manure obtained from animals. The huge amount of manure collect from the fields is wash and dried. Its uses in biomass plants to generate heat to produce electricity.


Bacteria and fungi are not picky eaters. They eat dead plants and animals, causing them to rot or rot. A fungus on rotting logs is transforming cellulose into sugars to feed themselves. Although this process is slow down in a landfill, a substance call methane gas still generate as waste materials. The new regulations require landfills to collect methane gas for safety and environmental reasons.

Methane gas is colorless and in order, but it is not harmless. If it leaks into nearby houses and ignites, the gas may cause ores or explosions. Landfill can collect methane gas, purify it and use it as fuel. Methane can also produce using energy from agricultural and human waste. Biogas digesters are airtight containers or pits made of steel or bricks. Waste pour into containers fermented without oxygen to produce methane-containing gas. This gas can use for the production of electricity, or for cooking and lighting.

Mill Residues

Residues derived from wood mills, like wood chips and wood powder, can be effectively used in biomass plants.

Alcohol fuel

Ethanol is an alcohol fuel (ethyl alcohol) that is made by fermenting the sugars and starch found in plants and then distilling them. Cellulose, starch, or sugar-containing any organic material can be made into ethanol. The bulk of ethanol made in the United States comes from corn. New technologies are producing ethanol from cellulose in woody from beers from trees, grasses, and crop residues. Alcohol fuels such as ethanol production through a process of fermentation that widely uses by the automobile industry.

Method of Converting Biomass

There are four types of biomass conversion technologies currently available that may result in specific energy and potential renewable products:

Thermal conversion

The thermal conversion process uses heat as the major mechanism to upgrade biomass into a better and more practical fuel. The basic options are mechanization, pyrolysis, and gasification, these are mainly separate to the extent that the chemical reactions involve allow proceeding (main control by the availability of oxygen and conversion temperature).

There are other less common, more innovative, or proprietary thermal processes that can give benefits, such as hydrothermal upgrading. Some have developed for use on high moisture content biomass, including aqueous slurries, and enable them to turned into more convenient forms.

Chemical conversion

Many types of chemical processes can be used to convert biomass into other forms, such as producing a fuel that is more practical to store, transport, and use, or to exploit some of the process’s properties. for. Many of these processes are based in large part on coal-based processes, such as the Fisher Tropsch synthesis. Biomass can convert into several commodity chemicals.

Biochemical conversion

Since biomass is a natural material, many highly efficient biochemical processes have evolved in nature to break down the molecules that compose biomass, and many of these biochemical conversion processes can be used. In most cases, microorganisms use to carry out the conversion process: anaerobic digestion, fermentation, and composting.

Glycoside hydrolases are enzymes involve in the degradation of a major fraction of biomass, such as polysaccharides present in starch and lignocellulose. Thermostable variants are gaining increasing roles as catalysts in bio-dining applications, as recalcitrant biomass often requires thermal treatment for more efficient degradation.

Electrochemical conversion

Biomass can directly convert into electrical energy through the oxidation of electrical (electrocatalytic) materials. This can perform directly in a direct carbon fuel cell, direct liquid fuel cells such as a direct ethanol fuel cell, a direct methanol fuel cell, a direct formic acid fuel cell, an L-ascorbic acid fuel cell (vitamin C fuel cell). And a microbial fuel cell. Fuel can also eat indirectly through a fuel cell system that contains a rectifier that converts biomass into a mixture of CO and H2 before consume in the fuel cell.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Biomass

Advantages of Biomass

The main benefits of biomass are:

  1. Biomass is a renewable energy source: The benefit of biomass energy is that biomass is renewable source of energy and it cannot be depleted.
  2. Biomass helps reduce the amount of GHG that give more impact to global warming and climate change. The biomass emissions level is far smaller compared to fossil fuels.
  3. Biomass energy helps to clean our environment. World population is constantly increasing with a increasing increased waste which needs to be properly disposed.
  4. Biomass is widely available energy source. The sources are from agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, algae and waste.
  5. Cheaper: Biomass energy production is comparatively cheaper than fossil fuels. The raw material is available cheaply. So, the low cost of electricity generation reduces the common man’s bill. This makes biomass energy more attractive.
  6. Variety products: Biomass energy is versatile because it makes so many products. Biomass can convert into various forms in the presence and absence of oxygen. Some of the byproducts are ethanol, biogas, syngas, bio-oil, and bio-char.
  7. Clean Gas: Biomass energy is a clean gas compare to other forms of energy. Greenhouse gases not emitted during the combustion of organic materials. Minimum pollution is the result. During this process, small amounts of carbon emit absorbed by plants for their survival and life cycle.

Disadvantages of Biomass

The main Limitation of biomass are:

  • Biomass fuels are mainly burned on inefficient open fires and traditional stoves.
  • In many cases, the demand for biomass fuels far outweighs sustainable supply. This can contribute to deforestation, land degradation and desertification.
  • Unclean burning leads to emissions.
  • Continuous and continuous supply of biomass is essential for the generation of biomass energy.
  • Compared to raw material input, the result is comparatively low.
  • All raw materials used are waste products that can cause pollution and foul odor.
  • The storage of biogas and its transport is difficult due to less advanced technology.
  • Larger space is required to build plants.
  • Biomass plants require huge investments.
  • More and more biomass crops are grown which in turn reduces soil fertility.


Biomass energy is created due to permission to burn or decompose organic material. So, in this process, the carbon released into the atmosphere is the minimum that is ultimately used by plants for their lifecycle. This is how biomass energy works. It has more benefits because it is a renewable source of energy that can be easily regenerated.

If biomass energy use appropriately and effectively, electricity will soon become a cheaper source of energy. More research and technology should develop so that biomass energy develops. Incentives should be provided by the government to start a biomass plant. Thus, this should be made more ecologically popular which may prove beneficial in the future.


Most electricity generated from biomass is produced by direct combustion. Biomass is burned in a boiler to produce high-pressure steam. This steam flows over a series of turbine blades, causing them to rotate. The rotation of the turbine drives a generator, producing electricity.

Biomass is considered a renewable energy source because its inherent energy comes from the sun and because it can regrow in a relatively short time. Trees take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into biomass and when they die, it is released back into the atmosphere.

The production of biomass plants is incredibly expensive and, in some cases, the costs are not worth the benefits. Transport and resource gathering expenses are high and will be continually needed every day. When you compare the process of biomass energy to fossil fuels, you find that the cost is actually much higher.

Outside of contributing carbon dioxide emissions, burning biomass in a solid, liquid, or gaseous state can also emit other pollutants and particulate matter into the air, including carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and nitrogen oxides.

Biomass feedstocks include dedicated energy crops, agricultural crop residues, forestry residues, algae, wood processing residues, municipal waste, and wet waste (crop wastes, forest residues, purpose-grown grasses, woody energy crops, algae, industrial wastes, sorted municipal solid waste [MSW], urban wood waste.

Read Also

Your Replay is valuable for us!!!!