Biomass is the material that comes from plants and animals that were recently living. Biomass can be burned directly, such as setting fire to wood. For as long as humans have had fire, people have used biomass for heating and cooking. People can also process biomass to make fuel, called biofuel. Biofuel can be created from crops, The advantage to biofuels is that they burn more cleanly than fossil fuels. As a result, they create less pollution and less carbon dioxide.
Organic material, like almond shells, can be made into electricity. Biomass power is a great use of wastes and is more reliable than other renewable energy sources, but harvesting biomass energy uses energy and biomass plants produce pollutants including greenhouse gases.
Consequences of Biomass Use:
In many instances, the amount of energy, fertilizer, and land needed to produce the crops used make biofuels mean that they often produce very little more energy than they consume. The fertilizers and pesticides used to grow the crops run off and become damaging pollutants in nearby water bodies or in the oceans.
To generate biomass energy, break down the cell walls of plants to release the sugars and then ferment those sugars to create fuel. Corn is a very inefficient source; scientists are looking for much better sources of biomass energy.
Many people think that the best source of biomass energy for the future is algae. Compared to corn, algae is not a food crop, it can grow in many places, it’s much easier to convert to a usable fuel, and it’s carbon neutral.
Biofuels are useful because they are liquid and can go into a gas tank unlike many other types of alternative energy.
Algae is the focus of much research because it is a very promising alternative to traditional crops for biofuels.
Biofuels have been used for as long as people have been burning wood for warmth or to cook their food.