Emissions from automobiles contribute significantly to air pollution. This has led to calls for greener sources of fuels to power cars. One green energy source with great potential is biomass fuel. Its most significant contributions include clean burning biodiesel and bioethanol.
Bio fuel ethanol is produced through various distillation and fermentation processes. This fuel is produced through the conversion of ethyl alcohol in biomass. Some of the most common sources of biomass fuels include molasses, beets, corn and sugarcane, although virtually all forms of sugars and starch can produce bio ethanol.
Alcohol-based fuels have certain disadvantages that make them harder to exploit on a commercial scale. They are not as efficient as petroleum-based fuels and are highly corrosive to car engines. Safer ethanol alternatives reduce engine efficiency.
The greatest advantage of biodiesel, especially in its purest form is that it has the lowest emissions and is suitable for transportation. Biodiesel fuels begin as vegetable oil or animal fat and are heated to lower their viscosity, then combined with ethanol or methanol to produce biomass fuel. Biodiesel has more oxygen and hydrogen and less carbon than petroleum-based fuels. Biofuels actually clean engines as they are burned. However, avoid using more than 15 percent biodiesel mixture on cars designed for conventional diesel.
This is one of the processes used to convert biomass into anaerobic energy. This is a high tech and costly process. It involves harnessing microorganisms to break down liquid organic wastes such as sewer in highly sensitive digestive tanks. This minimises the escape of gasses into the atmosphere. The gas is captured and stored as a potential fuel source. Despite its cost and complexity, anaerobic digestion is a promising bio energy technology.
Turning Biomass into Energy
Biomass encompasses all plant and animal matter on the planet. Bioenergy is created through harvesting organic matter and turning it into energy for heating, lighting, power or motion. Biomass is a great source of renewable and low carbon energy.
Animal and plant matter used to produce bioenergy can be collected from waste products or by growing plant materials specifically for the same purpose. Biomass energy has been used throughout the history of humankind. The most common use of bioenergy is the burning of plant and animal matter for heat in fire.
Plant materials used to produce biomass can be grown in land unsuitable for food production or grown in rotation with other plants. The materials are available almost everywhere, in forests, urban areas and in products such as tree clippings and shipping pallets. Because biomass is a renewable energy source, the carbon released during its production remains in the carbon cycle and is taken up by new plants replacing the harvested ones.
One of the most common means of converting biomass into energy is by burning organic materials into steam used to power turbines to produce electricity. In the repowering process, coal powered power plants are retrofitted to allow burning of organic materials for the production of bioenergy. Coal powered power plants can use coal exclusively or combine it with organic materials to produce steam for the production of electricity.
This process involves converting biomass energy into liquefied gas. The gas can be used to produce energy in natural gas powered plants in a form of co-firing. During this process, organic materials are heated under high pressure in the presence of oxygen. The oxygen gas introduced into the high pressure chamber is tightly controlled. The process’ final product is known as syngas, which is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide gases. During this process, many impurities are removed from syngas to produce a cleaner burning fuel.
There are many other forms of biomass energy including anaerobic digestion and heating organic materials directly to produce energy. Anaerobic digestion involves breaking down organic matter with usable byproducts such as carbon dioxide and methane. Some of the common materials used in anaerobic digestion include garbage from landfills and sewage. Many industrial complexes use organic materials to produce heat and power through the direct burning of organic materials.
About the Author :
Frank Robinson is a biomass boiler installer for AmberGreen Heat. When he’s not fitting new boilers he likes to research new energy sources and blog about it.