What is Biomass and Biomass Energy?

History of Biomass Energy

In ancient times, after the invention of fire, plants, wood, crops & other plant are used as an energy source. These get burned to produce heat for cooking, heating space in winter seasons, lighten the dark space. The same technology is used in modern times, but it has the name biomass energy. After the start of the industrial revolution, the use of biomass energy expanded. Industrials are using bioenergy for heat & electricity generation.

What is biomass & biomass energy?

Biomass is organic matter. Plants that grow on the land & the water and animal manure produce biomass. Biomass energy is the process of converting biomatter into heat & electricity using mechanical devices.

The prime source of biomass is the sun. Plants and other organisms transform light energy that comes from the sun into chemical energy with carbon dioxide & water through the photosynthesis process.

Carbohydrates & oxygen are produced by plants from carbon dioxide, water & sunlight. The plant uses this energy as a medium to live or grow. 

Biomass energy resources

Biomass energy resources are into three main groups.

1- Biomass obtained from the birch, crops, corn, spruce, switchgrass, algae, sorghum, sugarcane, willow, oil palm, bamboo, and organism, left on land as well as on water.

2- Biomass obtained from waste like municipal waste, animal extract, human extract & sewage.

3- It is achieved from dung, wood waste, manufacturing waste & agricultural waste to produce methane. 

Biomass energy is harnessed by using the following methods.

Thermochemical conversion

In thermochemical reactions, organic biomass is transmitted into valuable or convenient forms at different pressure & temperature. These products are liquid fuels, residues & products. Gasification & pyrolysis are the two main processes used for thermochemical conversion. 


It is a process of converting biomass into hydrogen (H2), Carbon Dioxide (CO2) & Carbon Monoxide (CO). It happens at a temperature higher than 700-degree Celsius & in presence of Oxygen & Air. This mixture is known as producer gas (syngas). If biomass using as a fuel, then it is a renewable energy source. 

The main advantage of the gasification process using syngas (producer gas) is that it is more efficient than the direct conversion process. Syngas is getting transformed at a high temperature in the gas engine. 


In this process, heating biomass in a closed vessel at a temperature between 400 to 900 degrees Celsius. This heating happens in the absence of air or oxygen. It produces liquid, solids & gases.

Biochemical conversion

The process of biochemical conversion of biomass makes use of the metabolic action of microbial organisms on biomass to produce liquid & gas fuels. The biochemical process gets divided into three processes.


Fermentation is the process of decomposition of complex molecules of the organic compound under the influence of microorganisms like yeast, bacteria & enzymes. It is a process of drawing out the energy from carbohydrates without the presence of oxygen.

Human beings is using this process for many decades. An example of the fermentation process is the conversion of grains & sugar crops into ethanol & carbon dioxide with yeast. 

The fermentation process is for preserving all kinds of pickles, and yogurt & making wines & bears. 

Anaerobic digestion

Anaerobic digestion is the process of converting wet biomass & animal waste into biogas through the action of anaerobic bacteria. The use of this process in some industries is for energy production from waste. Anaerobic digestion occurs naturally in some the places like in the dunk of the soil & ocean basin. 

Anaerobic bacteria are microorganisms that can live without oxygen. Production of the biogas depends on the type of biomass, Ph value, temperature, etc. The decomposition of biomass like human & animal waste takes more time compared to green plants & sludge. 

These are used for applications like power generation, vehicle fuel, fertilizer, soil conditioner, cooking gas & waste management. 


Composting is a process of decomposing organic materials like agricultural waste, crops & other waste into a useful compound with the help of microorganisms. This composting compound is used nowadays as a fertilizer for farming. It increases the quality of the land, gives required nutrients to the crops, and acts as a natural conditioner for the plants or crops. 

Electrochemical conversion

It is a process of converting biomass directly into electrical energy in the carbon fuel cell. It gets carried out with an electrochemical oxidation process. There is various type of fuel cells ethanol, methanol, formic acid, microbial, and l-ascorbic acid fuel cell. 

How can biomass energy negatively impact the environment?

Plants are the prime source of biomass energy. They can absorb carbon dioxide from the surrounding atmosphere to grown-up. When human being burns these plants, the same amount of carbon they release into the atmosphere & causes vice versa action.

Cutting the trees & using them to generate energy is not a feasible way. Because after you cut those trees & then replant new trees in their place, it will take so many years to become a forest. Once they grew up, then they can absorb maximum carbon dioxide from the surrounding. 

When you burn fossil fuels, it can create carbon emissions & the burning of biomass also creates carbon emissions.

Benefits or advantages of Biomass Energy

1- It reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

2- Due to the use of biofuels made by biomass, dependency on fossil fuels is reducing.

3- Biomass is waste-producing by the paper industries, humans, animals, crops & more. So, it is get converting into fertilizers, biofuels, and electrical energy. 

4- Nitrogen released from biomass is less as compared to coal.

Disadvantages of Biomass Energy

1- Burning of biomass causes the formation of CO2, which can harm the climate. 

2- Cutting trees for power generation harms the environment. 

3- It can create pollution.

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