Biomass: An energy source you don’t often hear about

Biomass - cleanbuild

Long before people started using gas cookers, stoves, and electric cookers, biomass energy had been in use. Even now, it is still being used in many parts of Africa as especially for cooking and heating. While in developed countries, biofuels are relied on to power transportation and electricity generation in place of fossil fuels.

As sciency as the word ‘biomass’ sounds, it is actually the weight or total quantity of living organisms of one animal or plant species or of all the species in a community. The energy is derived when plants, crops, wood and waste products, animal dungs, and algae are converted into bio-oil, syngas, charcoal. It is the conversion of biomass that gives all these options.

Where can we get biomass? The vital source of biomass is the chemical energy absorbed by the sun. Remember how the plant absorbs energy from the sun during photosynthesis and converts carbon dioxide and water into nutrients which are called carbohydrates, this energy can therefore be used either directly or indirectly when transformed.

Either it is burned directly to create heat or converted into electricity. Your dried woods, dried plants, and wastes are great examples of biomass.  Think about it, why use a poisonous means to generate heat and electricity (generators) when you have a less dangerous option right?

Let’s talk about some ways this energy source can benefit mankind. Did you know that biochar which is also a part of biomass is beneficial to agriculture? It can be used as fertilizer for plants and can also restore dying plants; this can help with plant nutrition and thereby increasing food supply and reducing climate change. In addition, it is a cheap source of energy for households as it can be gotten from the environment at almost no cost.

Also, the consumption of foods in plastics in the municipal areas can be recycled for biomass as it is stored in these organisms but when its feeds are not replenished, then it becomes a problem. Methane is obtained from decayed vegetable matter and this not only reduces waste but is also a good energy source that can be used in place of fossil fuels. Despite its obvious advantage, it has its downsides.

While it is used both in underdeveloped, developing, and developed countries for different purposes. On the one hand, in developing countries, biomass is used as a form of traditional fuel and for heat. On the other, industrialized nations like Canada use the energy source for transportation, to generate electricity, and also for heat. However, the process of getting and converting biomass can be an expensive undertaking.

In addition, one study shows that deriving energy from biomass causes deforestation if the harvested areas are not allowed to replenish. Deforestation on its own part worsens climate change as the trees which store carbon are felled, thereby releasing more carbon into the air.

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