A plant captures energy from the sun through the photosynthesis process, so when plant material is burned, it is actually releasing the energy from the sun. But unlike solar energy, which is produced by the heat of the sun, we refer to the energy derived from plant material as biomass.
Biomass is considered an important option for renewable energy and there are a lot of different ways that this energy is derived and used. Plants can be grown specifically for the production of economically friendly energy, or the residue that is left after plant material has been processed for other needs can be used as a source of renewable energy. When fuels are taken from plant material, or bio mass, they are called bio fuel. The term bio-fuel broadly covers the terms:
When bio mass is derived from trees, grasses and other non food sources, it is called cellulosic biomass. Although the plants are not used to produce bio gases directly through the fermentation of the carbohydrates to make bio alcohol or bio ethanol, the cellulosic bio mass can be used as feedstock in the production of ethanol.
Ethanol can be used as an alternative renewable fuel in its pure form, but it is usually added to gasoline instead of being used as a standalone fuel for cars and trucks. The addition of ethanol improves emissions that are released and increases octane of the vehicle fuel. Ethanol is the most widely used fuel under the bio mass category at this time. Animal fats, recycled grease and vegetable oils can all be used to produce bio diesel. The product can power vehicles in its pure form. Usually, though, the bio diesel is used as an additive to diesel fuel. The addition of the bio mass reduces the levels of hydrocarbons, carbon
monoxide and particulates that are produced by vehicles that are diesel powered.
This post is part of a series on the Thamesgate Blog. For more information on renewable energy solutions see our website.
Written by Nick Watkins.
Posted in Renewable Energy