The five main methods of waste management are source reduction, recycling, composting, waste-to-energy, and landfill. All these methods no longer can be a single method of waste disposal but rather there need to be a co-disposal program. Asian countries can no longer practice “open burning” method and landfill dumping which had to abide to strict regulations. There are numerous attempts and efforts to try and change “waste” into another by-product. One of the measures is to recycle the used product to another reusable product.
Biomass is any sort of vegetation-trees, grasses, plants parts such as leaves, stems and twigs, and ocean plants. From it, we can extract a wealth of stored energy. Biomass is available from various industries—including agriculture, forest products, transportation, and construction—that dispose of large quantities of wood and plant products. Whether cultivated or growing wild, biomass represents a huge renewable energy source.
Renewable energy is any energy source that can be either replenished continuously or within a moderate timeframe. Renewable power sources include solar power, biomass power, wind power, hydropower, and geothermal power.
Biomass power is the use of biomass feedstocks instead of the usual fossil fuels (natural gas or coal) to produce electricity. If biomass is cultivated and harvested properly, it is a renewable resource that can be used to generate power on demand, with no net additional contribution to global air emissions.
During photosynthesis, plants combine carbon dioxide from the air and water from the ground to form carbohydrates, which form the building blocks of biomass. The solar energy that drives photosynthesis is stored in the chemical bonds of the structural components of biomass. If we burn biomass efficiently (which extracts the energy stored in the chemical bonds), then oxygen from the atmosphere combines with the carbon in plants to produce carbon dioxide and water.
If we took all the biomass available today, the energy content in that fuel would produce an estimated 2,740 Quads, with just 1 Quad equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000 Btus.
It can produce electricity, liquid fuels, gaseous fuels, and a variety of useful chemicals, including those currently manufactured from petroleum. Because the energy in biomass is less concentrated than the energy in fossil fuels, our new technology can make this energy resource competitive with coal, oil, and natural gas. Industry and agriculture need superior energy crops and cost-effective conversion technologies to expand the use of renewable biomass.
At present, the world population uses only about 7% of the annual production of biomass. There is an abundance of biomass that we can tap.
While the actual ratio of components varies among species, biomass averages 75%
carbohydrates or sugars and 25% lignin.
Worldwide, biomass is the fourth largest energy resource after coal, oil, and natural gas. It is used for heating (such as wood stoves in homes and for process heat in bio-processing industries), cooking (especially in many parts of the developing world), transportation (fuels such as ethanol) and, increasingly, for electric power production. There are estimates of about 35,000 MW of installed capacity using biomass worldwide, with about 7,000 of that in the United States. Most of this capacity is in the pulp and paper industry in combined heat and power systems.
In its mixed waste form, MSW typically contains materials not suitable for use at Bio-Power facilities. Although a large fraction of the mass of municipal solid waste originates from plant matter the mixture with other urban wastes precludes its use in Bio-Power facilities. Materials recovery facilities that keep clean biomass materials (e.g. wood pallets, wood shavings and tree trimmings) segregated from other wastes are a potential source of biomass fuels. Biomass, when used in modern power systems, produces fewer emissions than conventional solid fuels used in power plants.
Biomass is one of the oldest fuels known to humanity. Although basic, the primitive campfire illustrates the nature of using biomass for power. When the biomass is burned, it produces heat. In a power plant, this heat is used to turn water into steam. The steam is then used to turn turbines, which are connected to electric generators. Gasifiers heat the biomass to convert it into a gas that can be used in high efficient power systems, such as combustion turbines or fuel cells.
Energy crops are crops that are grown for the specific purpose of producing energy (electricity or liquid fuels) from all or part of the resulting plant. Switch grass, alfalfa, willow, poplar and eucalyptus are examples of plants that can be grown as energy crops.
Right now, wood is most widely used because wood-fired power systems have been in use for a long time and are well understood. In addition, there is an abundance of wood residue available for use in power systems from bio-processing industries such as the wood products industry. However, the development of gasifiers may make many other biomass fuels usable for producing electricity.
Virtually every part of the world has a biomass resource that can be tapped to create power.
Biomass gasifiers are reactors that heat biomass in a low-oxygen environment to produce a fuel gas that contains from one fifth to one half (depending on the process conditions) the heat content of natural gas. For biomass, this process takes place at about 850 degrees C.