How does biomass works?
From ancient times to present biomass energy is facilitating us. Most common way of generating energy from biomass was to burn it and make heat and still industries are following the almost similar method. With some revolution in industry now biomass is fired to produce steam that can be used for generating electricity. Firing biomass in conventional boilers is considered safer than burning fossil fuels to generate electric power. To convert biomass into electricity different methods are used
Direct combustion: this is the oldest method to generate electricity from biomass. In this methods steam is produced to run turbines and generate electricity. The problem with direct combustion is that huge amount of energy get wasted and cause pollution. To control this problem dedicated plants should work where just one kind of biomass is fired.
Co-firing: one method that took height recently is burning the mix of biomass source with coal to generate electricity. This method is low cost, gives more energy security, uses beneficial biomass and emits less harmful gases as well.
Repowering: Under this process coal or natural gas plants are converted into biomass plants. In this way those will work on bio-energy only.
Combine heat and power: process of direct combustion of biomass release heat which can be used to heat building or for other industrial processes. Here wasted heat is used with direct combustion system which is economical and environment friendly.
Gasification: heating biomass with controlled amount of oxygen under certain pressure to convert it into carbon monoxide is called syngas. This process is followed to remove contaminants like carbon from gas before converting heat into electricity.
Anaerobic digestion: when biomass is fired, micro-organisms break down and result methane and carbon emission. To control this emission anaerobic digestion process is used to fire sewage or animal manure. In a controlled environment emitted carbon and methane gas is captured to reuse it as heat and power.
Note: Useful Video which can help understand biomass energy better.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Sustainability: using biomass for producing energy needs periodical harvests or removal of wild crops, dead tress and all other sources at sustainable level. This level makes sure that current use of these materials will not affect that land’s ability for meeting future needs. Therefore this area has special concerns that only additional resources will be removed to minimize impacts from external problems.
Carbon Neutral: this is one of the important advantages of biomass energy. Biomass creates carbon cycle, trees absorb carbon from environment and when they decays or fired they release this absorbed carbon back. This cycle continues over and over again so a balance maintains between amounts of carbon that this fuel release.
Expensive: using biomass for produce electricity is little expensive as compared to other natural resources. Because of high investment many biomass projects are still under process.
Needs space: setting a biomass energy plant needs huge area of land where garbage can be stored for use.