Biomass was the largest source of total annual U.S. energy consumption until the mid-1800s. Biomass also refers to the organic material on Earth that has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. [16] ", "While the initial premise regarding bioenergy was that carbon recently captured from the atmosphere into plants would deliver an immediate reduction in GHG emission from fossil fuel use, the reality proved less straightforward. The varied results displayed in the graph highlights this fact. Also, perennial crops avoid the yearly tillage procedures (plowing, digging) associated with growing annual crops. Pellets are usually manufactured in a die, with total moisture content usually less than 10 % of their mass on wet basis. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. This includes many everyday items – agricultural crops, trees, … How is biomass used? [40][41] Forest-based biomass projects have also received criticism for ineffective GHG mitigation from a number of environmental organizations, including Greenpeace. Corrections? Biomass continues to be an important fuel in many countries, especially for cooking and heating in developing countries. Biomass is a modern name for the ancient technology of burning plant or animal material for energy production (electricity or heat), or in various industrial processes as raw substance for a range of products. For instance, Whitaker et al. Smil estimates that the average area-specific power densities for biofuels, wind, hydro and solar power production are 0.30 W/m2, 1 W/m2, 3 W/m2 and 5 W/m2, respectively (power in the form of heat for biofuels, and electricity for wind, hydro and solar). You will notice that water, wind, sun, and biomass (vegetation) are all available naturally. Some critical research groups (e.g. [22] The fuel can also be consumed indirectly via a fuel cell system containing a reformer which converts the biomass into a mixture of CO and H2 before it is consumed in the fuel cell. [5] Even in 2019, biomass is the only source of fuel for domestic use in many developing countries. It is the total amount of CO2 emissions and absorption together that determines if the GHG life cycle cost of a biofuel project is positive, neutral or negative. If emissions during agriculture, processing, transport and combustion are higher than what is absorbed, both above and below ground during crop growth, the GHG life cycle cost is positive. "Making fischer-tropsch fuels and electricity from coal and biomass: Performance and cost analysis." [o] Consequently, Smil estimates the following: In Brazil, the average yield for eucalyptus is 21 t/ha (1.26 W/m2), but in Africa, India and Southeast Asia, typical eucalyptus yields are below 10 t/ha (0.6 W/m2). ", "The raw material for wood pellets is woody biomass in accordance with Table 1 of ISO 17225‑1. It can include microorganisms, plants or … Milner et al. [3][4] Agricultural production releases CO2 and on combustion, a plant's absorbed CO2 is released into the atmosphere. [13] Third-generation biofuels refer to those derived from microalgae. These metals are often found in functional molecules such as the porphyrins which include chlorophyll which contains magnesium. Biomass energy can be stand alone heat generation such as the lumber dry kilns associated with sawmills. miscanthus (10–40 t/ha), and napier (15–80 t/ha), but unlikely for forest and many other types of biomass crops. Biomass is renewable organic material that comes from plants and animals. [citation needed] Upgrading to higher grade fuels can be achieved by different methods, broadly classified as thermal, chemical, or biochemical. Many of these processes are based in large part on similar coal-based processes, such as the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. In the industry, most other biomass definitions also include the flowers, but with hemp, the flower is only also considered biomass after extraction has taken place. Grasslands are highly variable and uncertain in their response to LUC to bioenergy and given their widespread occurrence across the temperate landscape, they remain a cause for concern and one of the main areas where future research efforts should be focussed. Historically, humans have harnessed biomass-derived energy since the time when people began burning wood fuel. In most cases, microorganisms are used to perform the conversion process: anaerobic digestion, fermentation, and composting. A range of chemical processes may be used to convert biomass into other forms, such as to produce a fuel that is more practical to store, transport and use, or to exploit some property of the process itself. Forest-based biomass projects can have long rotation times, and have received some criticism for that. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/science/biomass, biomass - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Biomass is organic, meaning it is made of material that comes from living organisms, such as plants and animals. They criticize the bioenergy sceptics for blurring the distinction between fossil and biogenic carbon, and state that "it is incorrect to determine the climate change effect of using biomass for energy by comparing GHG emissions at the point of combustion."[34]. See, "A systematic review and meta-analysis were used to assess the current state of knowledge and quantify the effects of land use change (LUC) to second generation (2G), non-food bioenergy crops on soil organic carbon (SOC) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of relevance to temperate zone agriculture. [39] McCalmont et al. To match the world average for biofuels (0.3 W/m2), plantations need to produce 5 tonnes of dry mass per hectare per year. Oven dry biomass in general, including wood, miscanthus[56] and napier[57] grass, have a calorific content of roughly 18 GJ/t. Knowledge on initial soil carbon stocks could improve GHG savings achieved through targeted deployment of perennial bioenergy crops on low carbon soils (see section 2). Biomass is simply any living (or recently living) organic matter that’s used for fuel. The potential consequences of land use change (LUC) to bioenergy on GHG balance through food crop displacement or 'indirect' land use change (iLUC) are also an important consideration (Searchinger et al., 2008). Dedicated perennial energy crops, produced on existing, lower grade, agricultural land, offer a sustainable alternative with significant savings in greenhouse gas emissions and soil carbon sequestration when produced with appropriate management (Crutzen et al., 2008; Hastings et al., 2008, 2012; Cherubini et al., 2009; Dondini et al., 2009a; Don et al., 2012; Zatta et al., 2014; Richter et al., 2015). Energy & Fuels 25: 415–437. Examples of fossil fuels include coal, petroleum and natural gas. ", "The impact of growing bioenergy and biofuel feedstock crops has been of particular concern, with some suggesting the greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of food crops used for ethanol and biodiesel may be no better or worse than fossil fuels (Fargione et al., 2008; Searchinger et al., 2008). [...] The assumption that annual cropland provides greater potential for soil carbon sequestration than grassland appears to be over‐simplistic, but there is an opportunity to improve predictions of soil carbon sequestration potential using information on the initial soil carbon stock as a stronger predictor of ∆C [change in carbon amount] than prior land use. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Biomass energy generation is the creation of heat and/or power from carbonaceous substances such as solid wood or wood residues, agricultural crop residues, aquatic plants, animal wastes, and dedicated energy crops such as tree farms. miscanthus, switchgrass), wood or forest residues, waste from food crops (wheat straw, bagasse), horticulture (yard waste), food processing (corn cobs), animal farming (manure, rich in nitrogen and phosphorus), or human waste from sewage plants. Biomass is carbon based and is composed of a mixture of organic molecules containing hydrogen, usually including atoms of oxygen, often nitrogen and also small quantities of other atoms, including alkali, alkaline earth and heavy metals. It is also the total amount of organic material produced by living things in a given area within a set period of time. Biomass is a renewable energy source – The most obvious benefit of biomass energy is that biomass is renewable source of energy, meaning that it cannot be depleted like this is the case with fossil fuels. A number of factors drive this variability in calculated savings, but we know that where significant reductions are not achieved or wide variability is reported there is often associated data uncertainty or variations in the LCA methodology applied (Rowe et al., 2011). Other studies have shown that direct nitrogen‐related emissions from annual crop feedstocks can be mitigated through optimized management practices (Davis et al., 2013) or that payback times are less significant than proposed (Mello et al., 2014). The weight or quantity of organisms in an area at a given moment is the standing crop. iLUC) creating a carbon debt which could take decades to repay (Fargione et al., 2008). When it comes to energy, biomass is any organic matter that can be used to generate energy, for example wood, forest residues or plant materials. [26], Biomass burning is carbon based and therefore produces air pollution in the form of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, particulates and other pollutants. Biomass is the organic matter, both animal and plant-based, which can … further argue that the most successful carbon sequestration in the UK takes place below improved grassland. C MJ, "Whilst these values represent the extremes, they demonstrate that site selection for bioenergy crop cultivation can make the difference between large GHG [greenhouse gas] savings or losses, shifting life‐cycle GHG emissions above or below mandated thresholds. The moisture of biomass straw or bales varies with the surrounding air humidity and eventual pre-drying measures, while pellets have a standardized (ISO-defined) moisture content of below 10% (wood pellets)[q] and below 15% (other pellets). [25] Depending on the size of the newly grown biomass, the previously combusted CO2 is partially or fully absorbed. Reducing uncertainties in ∆C [carbon increase or decrease] following LUC [land use change] is therefore more important than refining N2O [nitrous oxide] emission estimates (Berhongaray et al., 2017). The grey/blue bars represent agriculture, processing and transport related emissions, the green bars represents soil carbon change, and the yellow diamonds represent total final emissions.[k]. Biomass is a source of renewable energy that can be replenished at each crop cycle, wood harvest, or manure pile—but it isn't perfect. This can be performed directly in a direct carbon fuel cell,[20] direct liquid fuel cells such as direct ethanol fuel cell, a direct methanol fuel cell, a direct formic acid fuel cell, a L-ascorbic Acid Fuel Cell (vitamin C fuel cell),[21] and a microbial fuel cell. [5] It is used directly as a fuel or processed into pellet fuel or other forms of fuels. [60], FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) estimate that forest plantation yields range from 1 to 25 m3 per hectare per year globally, equivalent to 0.02–0.7 W/m2 (0.4–12.2 t/ha):[p], Smil estimate that natural temperate mixed forests yield on average 1.5–2 dry tonnes per hectare (2–2,5 m3, equivalent to 0.1 W/m2), ranging from 0.9 m3 in Greece to 6 m3 in France).[61]. [t], This article is about biomass as a renewable energy source. Biomass fuels, including wood, wood waste, straw, manure, sugar cane, and many other byproducts from a variety of agricultural processes, continue to be a major source of energy in much of the developing world. miscanthus, switchgrass), wood or forest residues, waste from food crops (wheat straw, bagasse), horticulture (yard waste), food processing (corn cobs), animal farming (manure, rich in nitrogen and phosphorus), or human waste from sewage plants.[2]. Relative biomass on Earth. [42] While regular forestry typically have rotation times spanning many decades, short rotation forestry (SRF) have a rotation time of 8–20 years, and short rotation coppicing (SRC) 2–4 years. All organic material obtained from plants and animals is considered biomass, and consists of wood, crops, animal waste, organic garbage, human waste, etc. 3 confirmed either no change or a gain of SOC [soil organic carbon] (positive) through planting Miscanthus on arable land across England and Wales and only a loss of SOC (negative) in parts of Scotland. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. Therefore, energy production has become the topic that we most commonly discuss lately. There are numerous types of plants, including corn, switchgrass, miscanthus, hemp, sorghum, sugarcane, and bamboo. [citation needed] Co-firing is not without issues however, often an upgrade of the biomass is most beneficial. [9][10], Based on the source of biomass, biofuels are classified broadly into three major categories:[11], First-generation biofuels are derived from food sources, such as sugarcane and corn starch. The biomass is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time. The argument that biomass combustion is carbon neutral is contested. A Combined Overview of Combustion, Pyrolysis, and Gasification of Biomass. ", "Our work shows that crop establishment, yield and harvesting method affect the C. cost of Miscanthus solid fuel which for baled harvesting is 0.4 g CO2 eq. There is ongoing research involving algae or algae-derived biomass. This analysis provides a holistic view of the composition of the biosphere and allows us to observe broad patterns over taxonomic categories, geographic locations, and trophic … The three major categories of methods for generating electricity include fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable sources. Some have even higher total GHG emissions than some fossil based alternatives. Yields need to be adjusted to compensate for the amount of moisture in the biomass (evaporating moisture in order to reach the ignition point is usually wasted energy). The planet's biomass is classified by kingdom of life and other major groupings, and the size of each group's relative footprint is displayed using gigatons of carbon as the common measure. Biomass is a modern name for the ancient technology of burning plant or animal material for energy production (electricity or heat), or in various industrial processes as raw substance for a range of products. The most common biomass materials used for energy are plants, wood, and waste. [citation needed], Thermal conversion processes use heat as the dominant mechanism to upgrade biomass into a better and more practical fuel. The EU and UN consider biomass a renewable energy source. [r] Likewise, for wind, hydro and solar, power line transmission losses amounts to roughly 8% globally and should be accounted for. argue that a miscanthus crop with a yield of 10 tonnes per hectare per year sequesters so much carbon that the crop more than compensates for both farm operations emissions and transport emissions. As part of the Food vs. fuel debate, several economists from Iowa State University found in 2008 "there is no evidence to disprove that the primary objective of biofuel policy is to support farm income."[45]. However, some other studies (particularly on transport fuels) have indicated the opposite, that is that bioenergy systems can increase GHG emissions (Smith & Searchinger, 2012) or fail to achieve increasingly stringent GHG savings thresholds. The most significant reductions have been noted for heat and power cases. notes that since the carbon content of grasslands vary considerably, so does the success rate of land use changes from grasslands to perennial. To calculate land use requirements for different kinds of power production, it is essential to know the relevant area-specific power densities. Nationwide, the biomass industry accounts for over 15,500 jobs, many of which are in small rural communities. [43] Perennial grasses like miscanthus or napier grass have a rotation time of 4–12 months. [31], When combusted, oven dry wood emits slightly less CO2 per unit of energy produced, compared to oven dry coal. The biomass energy source goes through chemical changes and turns into syngas, an oil called pyrolysis oil, and biochar, the solids left behind. Biomass can refer to species biomass, which is the mass of one or more species, or to community biomass, which is the mass of all species in the community. In addition, concerns have been raised that N2O emissions from biofuel feedstock cultivation could have been underestimated (Crutzen et al., 2008; Smith & Searchinger, 2012) and that expansion of feedstock cultivation on agricultural land might displace food production onto land with high carbon stocks or high conservation value (i.e. Biomass is made up of living things (or things that were once living). All biomass is biologically-produced matter based in carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Biomass fuels produce less carbon dioxide than some fossil fuels, such as … What you get for that, though, is “non-biomass, no stems, no trim, no chemical extraction — all we use is pure kief,” Macri says. We assemble a census of the biomass of all kingdoms of life. The total annual SOC change across GB in the transition from arable to Miscanthus if all nonconstrained land was planted with would be 3.3 Tg C yr, "In summary, we have quantified the impacts of LUC [land use change] to bioenergy cropping on SOC and GHG balance. The total amount of organic material produced by living organisms in a particular area within a set period of time, called the primary or secondary productivity (the former for plants, the latter for animals), is usually measured in units of energy, such as gram calories or kilojoules per square metre per year. As mentioned above, Smil estimates that the world average for wind, hydro and solar power production is 1 W/m2, 3 W/m2 and 5 W/m2 respectively. [46] The average human power consumption on ice-free land is 0.125 W/m2 (heat and electricity combined),[47] although rising to 20 W/m2 in urban and industrial areas. [l] For the UK, successful sequestration is expected for arable land over most of England and Wales, with unsuccessful sequestration expected in parts of Scotland, due to already carbon rich soils (existing woodland) plus lower yields. The composition of the biosphere is a fundamental question in biology, yet a global quantitative account of the biomass of each taxon is still lacking. [8] Other biomass feedstocks are enzymes or bacteria from various sources, grown in cell cultures or hydroponics. All these types of biomass contain energy, because they’re organic materials. renewable and sustainable source of energy used to create electricity or other forms of power Biofuel s, renewable liquid fuels made from biomass, are used to power vehicles or generate electricity through fuel cells. Soils already rich in carbon includes peatland and mature forest. [a][b][c] Transport fuels might be worse than solid fuels in this regard. The economic viability of biomass is dependent on government mandates and subsidies, due to high costs of infrastructure and ingredients for ongoing operations relative to other sources of energy. In order to match these power densities, plantation yields must reach 17 t/ha, 50 t/ha and 83 t/ha for wind, hydro and solar respectively. Studies suggested that GHG emission from energy crop production and land-use change might outweigh any CO2 mitigation (Searchinger et al., 2008; Lange, 2011). By living things in a given area within a set period of time bottom graphic the... For heat and power cases American mule deer (, …the nutrient reservoirs, and agricultural/municipal waste,. Organic matter that ’ s used for fuel used up a lot of the.... Or even dung produce the fuel than 15 % of their mass on wet.. Total amount of organic matter, agricultural crops like corn and sugarcane, have! The varied results displayed in the present world become the topic that most. 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