Biomass Energy Conversion



Biomass material can be used directly as the source of energy and used to cook food or heat water, which can also be used to generate electricity. The biomass material can also be converted into biofuel like ethanol or biodiesel and used as the alternate fuel for the vehicle.

Conversion of Biomass

There are number of technologies to use the biomass as the renewable energy source. In some technologies the biomass is converted directly into heat or electricity. In other technologies the biomass is converted into the fuel like ethanol and biodiesel etc which can be used as the fuels for the vehicles.

Technologies for the Conversion of Biomass to the Renewable Energy Source

There are two main categories of technologies used for converting biomass to renewable energy source, these are: thermal conversion and chemical conversion. Let us have a look at both these technologies:

1) Thermal conversion: Thermal conversion is the conversion of biomass to heat or electricity or some fuel that can be used later. Some of the biomass materials like wood, paper, broken parts of the tree, and others can be burnt directly to produce heat. They can also be used to heat water and generate steam from it which is used to produce electricity. There are three thermal conversion technologies used to convert biomass to the energy source:

  1. a) Combustion: Combustion is the process in which the flammable materials can be burnt in the presence of oxygen. In combustion biomass is used to produce heat for cooking food or heating water. Water can also be converted to steam, which can used to produce electricity.
  2. b) Gasification: In this process hot gases are generated by the burning of biomass in presence of air. The hot gases can be used for various applications like heating water which can be used directly or it can be used for heating in the central and district air-conditioning systems. The hot gases can also be used to generate steam from water, which can be used to generate electricity.
  3. c) Pyrolysis: It is the process of converting biomass to the fuel like charcoal which can be stored easily and used at later stages for various applications.

2) Chemical conversion: In the chemical conversion process a number of chemical changes are carried out in the biomass to convert it into the fuel that can be stored and transported easily, used conveniently and efficiently for various applications. A number of biochemical reactions like anaerobic digestion, fermentation, and composting can be carried on biomass to convert it into the fuels. In biochemical reaction enzymes of bacteria and other micro-organisms are used to breakdown the biomass molecules.

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