The use of biomass as an energy source

Biomasa y su valorización energética

Biomass had been the most important energy source for humanity until the beginning of the industrial revolution, when it was relegated to second place by the massive use of fossil fuels. Biomass is any organic matter that can be used as an energy source after the application of different thermochemical processes.

5 great advantages of biomass as an energy source

Transforming biomass into energy means creating an alternative to fossil fuels. Within the concept of biofuels, the use of biomass as an energy source has a number of advantages that we mention below:

  1. Renewable energy source. That is, biomass is obtained from inexhaustible natural resources, due to the large amount of energy they contain or their capacity for natural regeneration.
  2. Transform waste into resources. Thanks to biomass, the agricultural sector and other industries can recycle their surpluses. In addition, the waste produced by biomass itself, such as ash, can be reused as fertilizer.
  3. Environmentally friendly. Although it is necessary to burn for its energy use, the amount of CO2 released is equivalent to the amount that the plants would release into the natural environment during decomposition. Therefore, the use of biomass as an energy source is considered as a neutral emission source.
  4. Supports efficient forest management. Forestry activities related to biomass development help to prevent fires, as well as soil erosion and degradation.
  5. More economical. In addition to being more economical compared to fossil fuels, the price of biomass is much more stable and doesn’t constantly fluctuate according to geopolitical issues as is the case with oil.

The energy recovery of biomass

The use of organic waste for the creation of renewable energy is carried out in combustion plants. In these plants, the incoming biomass is processed to obtain high purity fuel fractions that improve the energy valuation process in biomass combustion boilers.

The direct energy recovery of waste is a major challenge facing today’s society given the continuous increase in waste generation and its great environmental, social and economic impact.

Technologies for energy recovery

Below we briefly mention the different thermochemical methods or technologies for the energy recovery of existing biomass:

  • Combustion: It occurs when we burn biomass with a lot of air (20-40% higher than the theoretical) at a temperature between 600 and 1300°C. It is the most basic way to recover energy from biomass, from which gases come to produce heat and be able to use it in industry and homes and to produce electricity.
  • Pyrolysis: It involves decomposing biomass using heat (at about 500°C) without oxygen. This process results in gases formed by hydrogen, carbon oxides and hydrocarbons, hydrocarbonate liquids and carbonaceous solid waste. This process was used years ago to make charcoal.
  • Gasification: It occurs when there is a combustion and different quantities. The temperature of the gasification can be between 700 and 1.500°C and the oxygen between 10 and 50%. Depending on the use of air or oxygen, two different gasification procedures are created. On the one hand, gas or “poor gas” and on the other, synthesis gas. Great efforts are being made to improve the oxygen gasification process.
  • Co-combustion: It consists of the use of biomass as an aid fuel while the combustion of coal in combustion boilers is carried out. This process reduces coal consumption and reduces emissions.

Installation of biomass screening systems

At Grupo SPR we have designed a concept of biomass recycling plant that allows the entry of different types of biomass or wood waste consisting of the separation of fractions according to their size and density, as well as the separation of metals to control the base material for biofuel production.

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