[Ag11] Biomass

AUTHOR: James Stopps


Chipped biomass delivery    biomass-carbon-cycle.jpg    biomass-calorific-values.jpg    biomass-delivery.jpg

Scenario Games: Action Plan: External:
wiki - biomass

Farmers; Government; Waste Management; Kyoto Protocall; EU
Biomass (biological materials such as plant life) holds a huge potential for the world to generate renewable heat and power.  As plants grow they utilise the energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates (organic compounds) and oxygen within the photosynthesis process.  When this biomass is burnt to produce energy the carbon and oxygen recombine to form carbon dioxide which in turn is reabsorbed by more plant life.
Key sources of biomass include forestry and forestry residues, specifically grown agricultural ‘fuel crops’, waste woods from industries such as construction, sewage sludge, agricultural residue such as chicken litter, and municipal waste.

‘The global energy potential of virgin biomass is very large.  It is estimated that the world’s standing terrestrial biomass carbon (i.e., the renewable, above-ground biomass that could be harvested and used as an energy resource) is approximately 100 times the world’s total annual energy consumption.’
Donald L. Klass, ‘Encyclopaedia of Energy’, Elsevia, 2004

Biomass possesses the closest properties to the fossil fuels that we are used to in that it can be burnt to produce heat or can be processed (via gasification, pyrolisis or fischer-tropsch) into product fuels.  However biomass generally has a low calorific value and new strategies are needed to ensure it is used to its maximum potential, i.e. through the implementation of district heating.
An increased demand for ‘fuel crops’ such as short rotation willow-coppice could help to revitalise the agricultural industry in the developed world, reintegrating a digitised community with its roots.  The localised production of biomass could also lead to a greater independence from nations and states that posses large reserves of fossil fuels, a factor that is growing increasingly important in the current political climate.
How can biomass be best utilised in energy production?
Where and how can fuel crops be planted?
What are the implications of a shift toward primary industry within a service based culture?