Energy, particularly renewable energy, is a priority for many countries around the world. There are continuing dialogues related to "peak oil", "global warming" and politics affecting the secure supply of sustainable and environmentally responsible energy for future generations. World events (such as the dispute over natural gas between Russia and the Ukraine) and the continuing uncertainty in the Middle East remind us of the fragile supply of energy. The pressure to invade vast areas of the Arctic to extract oil in high-value natural sanctuaries highlights the pressures caused by the continued reliance on fossil fuels. The world is searching for alternatives, and biomass-derived product solutions can significantly contribute to global energy needs.
Biomass is solar energy stored in plant material such as wood through photosynthesis. Although biomass comes in many forms, wood is the best form of biomass to create energy.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, woody biomass (firewood & charcoal) satisfied nearly all of mankind’s energy needs.
Declining oil reserves, growing environmental awareness and political issues surrounding fossil fuels have renewed the interest in and demand for our original source of energy, biomass.
New technology can maximize the energy output of biomass, particularly through torrefication and densification(pelleting). This neutralizes carbon emissions, making it one of the most desirable sources of energy benefiting our environment and reducing the "green-house" affect.
Historically, open burning of biomass is neither healthy for our environment or makes economic sense. The transportation of unprocessed biomass to the populated centers was often too expensive, and the high moisture content of firewood and inefficient conversion of wood to energy in traditional wood stoves contributed unacceptable pollution. The solution to both problems is biomass products(like pellets), because of the energy density and efficiency of the product. Wood pellets burn at a very high heat with minimal emissions in modern biomass boilers and furnaces.
One seventh of total energy consumption is from biomass which is the main energy resource for over 1.5 billion people in the world. Biomass energy is the only one which has both the property and characteristics (which mean that it can be stored, renewed and transferred) of fossil fuel. It is less restricted by natural conditions. Biomass energy can be transferred to useful thermal energy(hot water, steam), electrical energy and fuel as power by means of direct combustion, gasification, and bio-liquids. High-grade combustible gas like CO, H2 and methane can be formed by the gasification of biomass. Biogas can be produced by anaerobic digestion of biomass and liquid fuel using, for example, thermalization, biochemistry, machinery and chemistry. Biomass energy is the most renewable energy resource in the world. Like a great solar chemical industry plant, it spreads in plants all over land and water throughout the world which transfer continuously solar energy into chemical energy which is stored in the inner part of plants in the form of organic matter.
About 120 billion tons of biomass, the energy capacity of which is five times the total present energy consumption in the world, is formed each year by means of photosynthesis. But, only 1% of the total energy capacity has been used as energy domesticated for humans. It is estimated that biomass can supply about 14% of total energy consumption in the world.
A study published today in Science concludes that, on average, using biomass to produce electricity is 80 percent more efficient than transforming the biomass into biofuel. In addition, the electricity option would be twice as effective at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Another application of biocarbon is the conversion of the biocarbon to activated biocarbon(i.e., activated carbon from biomass) through torrefication. Activated carbon is a traditional technology for air and water treatment. However, the “new science” of activated biocarbon is an exciting opportunity to produce renewable environmental products that are in many ways superior to their current fossil fuel based competitor products . The resulting beneficial property of activated carbon is its unique ability to trap trace contaminants is its porous structure and huge surface area.
A remarkable ability of bio-char (also torrefied biomass) is it's performance as an agricultural growth catalyst. In this application, often called “terra preta,” the biocarbon is neither a nutrient nor a fertilizer yet it enhances plant growth by 30% to 300%. Even more remarkable, the carbon is not consumed, and thus has to be applied only once. The growth promotion takes place from the absorbent carbon acting as a slow-release agent for nutrients and fertilizers and/or host for soil microbes. The end result is more food production The biocarbon placed in the ground is sequestered and becomes carbon negative.
Bulk Biomass Opportunity - Torrefied Wood Pellets
When sawing wood into building products, shavings or waste wood is produced as a byproduct (i.e., saw dust). Left alone it degrades, releasing some of the stored carbon and methane into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases, and eventually it returns to soil. While degrading, it also is easily ignites and burns becoming a contributor to air pollution. In the 1970’s, an idea was born to harness the energy in this wood waste in a controlled manner to produce heat as well as electricity. Machinery was developed to densify sawdust into a form (pellets) which burned cleaner and was more easily transported; thus reducing pollution and providing a more cost-effective transportation.
The ability to manufacture and transport biomass products introduces a new source of energy for industry, institutions, and isolated communities. With the advent of global warming and accompanying government mandated environmental initiatives, there is also an opportunity for ecoTECH Energy Group to obtain carbon credits for developing biomass processing facilities. These renewable energy incentives encourage sustainable, environmentally-friendly and naturally occurring fuel alternatives from biomass.
China is relatively rich in biomass energy resources. Five billion tons of biomass could be produced in the country annually (700 million tons of it is from the agricultural sector alone). In rural China, biomass energy consumption represents about 70% of production.
Biomass energy is the only source that has both the property and characteristics of fossil fuel, which means that it can be stored, renewed and transferred. It is less limited by natural conditions. According to where it is found, biomass energy can be correlated to forest biomass, agricultural biomass and aquatic biomass. It can be divided into one-time energy resource and two-times energy resource in the forming process. The former refers to various forest, agricultural crops, grass and aquatic plants that are from photosynthesis. The later refers to biomass energy that is produced indirectly, including animal manure, multiple organic waste, organic waste water, effluent sludge as well as other organic wastes formed in industry and agriculture processing. All this matter contains abundant energy.
The biomass energy resource has many advantages such as greater resource capacity, lower price, less sulphur composition, less ash content and the feature of renewability. However, it also has some unfavorable aspects such as higher water content, lower unit thermal output, large volume, decentralized resource and unsuitable for collection, storage and transportation. These disadvantages can be overcome with proper planning and application of technology. Biomass resources can be used efficiently.