Posted on: April 12, 2022 Posted by: Jerry D. Pfeil Comments: 0

Bioenergy is commonly known as biomass energy. Humans have been using biomass energy since the invention of fire. Bioenergy is a rapidly growing industry and is an alternative to fossil fuels. It’s also a renewable energy resource.

This guide will explain what people mean by bioenergy, biofuel, and biomass. We will also examine bioenergy’s potential to mitigate climate change and its role in energy production and as a renewable source of energy.

What Is Bioenergy?

Bioenergy is often used interchangeably to mean biofuel. It is energy that comes from biomass. This is a plant- or animal-based material taken from renewable resources. Early biofuels were dung, grasses and wood products, which people used to make energy. They are still used in some societies.

Today, the most biomass feedstock is converted to the biofuels we are most familiar with: ethanol (alcohol) and biodiesel. There are three generations of feedstocks: first, second, and third.

The first-generation biofuels are made from food crops like corn, sugarcane and maize for bioethanol. Biodiesel feedstock is made from vegetable oils like soybean oil and canola.

Cellulosic materials, also known as complex sugar molecules, are second-generation feedstocks. They include cellulosic material (made from cellulose), grasses and plant fibers.

Algae is the third-generation source of biofuel.

The technology for biomass energy is rapidly improving and becoming a more popular, renewable alternative to fossil fuels. Biofuel production technology, which uses waste to make advanced biofuels, is being explored by researchers. Waste, animal fat, and cooking oil can be used to make liquid biofuels.

When Was Biomass Energy First Used?

Bioenergy or biomass energy has been around for millennia. It dates back to the first time humans started burning animal or plant material to fuel their fires. There is plenty of evidence suggesting humans used biomass energy sometime between 230,000 and a 1.5million years ago.

The majority of human existence on this planet depended on biomass for heating and cooking. Soon after distilling alcohol was made in the 12th Century, ethanol became a popular ingredient for lighting and cooking. Ethanol is a product of grain, which is a common feedstock. It was easily available.

Coal and crude oil grew popular as drilling and mining became more economically viable. With electrification, cheap crude oil and coal were available to power plants, reducing bioenergy production.

Gasification, a technology that converts carbon from material to fuel gas, made ethanol obsolete. This was except for the first years of the automobile industry. Fuel scarcity results from reliance on biofuels, even before we could refine crude oil. The demand for ethanol and other biofuels increased due to fuel shortages in the two world wars.

Bioenergy was rediscovered after the 1970s gas shortages. Scientists began to raise the alarm about climate change, global warming and the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.

Bioenergy technologies are redeveloping into a bioeconomy due to growing public concern over carbon dioxide and methane emissions and the sustainability of fossil fuel energy sources.

Where Does Bioenergy Come From?

Bioenergy results from the use of biomass as the ultimate chemical storage device. Bioenergy can also be made from renewable resources. Photosynthesis is the process by which most biomass is produced from plant material. As you may have learned in science class, Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into oxygen and glucose.

Biomass feedstock includes:

  • Wood chips, wood pellets, wood chips and sawdust can be used as firewood.
  • Herbaceous and switchgrass plants, soybeans, Sugar cane, alfalfa, corn and the residue of crop and food processing
  • Paper, wool, and products made from cotton
  • Human sewage and animal manures

How Is Bioenergy Produced?

Direct combustion (burning), thermochemical, chemical and biological conversion are all possible methods for producing bioenergy. Thermochemical converts solid, liquid, or gaseous fuels. The other two methods of conversion create liquid and gaseous fuels.

There are several thermochemical conversion methods:

  • Pyrolysis heats biomass feedstocks to 800-900 (400-500) using a near-vacuum.
  • The hydrothermal treatment creates bio-oil by fast pyrolysis using a catalyst at high pressure.
  • Gasification heats the feedstock to 1400-1700 (800-900) and provides free oxygen or steam. Synthesis gas (also known as syngas) is the result. It is a hydrogen-rich gas.

 

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