What is Biomass energy and how it is generated?

What is biomass?

Biomass is a renewable organic material derived from plants and animals. Biomass remains a popular fuel in many countries, particularly in developing countries for cooking and heating. Many developed countries are increasing their use of biomass fuels for transportation and electricity generation as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.

The sun provides energy to biomass. The sun’s energy is stored in all organic matter. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugars using the energy provided by sunlight.

What are various types of renewable energy available?

Carbohydrates are sugars that provide energy to plants and animals that eat plants. Carbohydrate-rich foods provide a good source of energy for the human body.

What are the sources of biomass energy?

Biomass sources for energy include:

  • Wood and wood processing wastes:- Wood pellets, wood chips, firewood, and various wood wastes and black liquor from pulp and paper mills.

  • Agricultural crops and waste materials:- Soybeans, sugar cane, switchgrass, woody plants, algae, and crop and food processing residues

  • Biogenic materials (solid waste):- Food, Paper, cotton, wood wastes, and wool products.

  • Animal wastes and human sewage

Bioenergy Technologies


Biofuels are transportation fuels created by converting biomass into liquid fuels to meet transportation needs, such as ethanol and biodiesel.


Biopower technologies can convert renewable biomass fuels into heat and electricity using one of three following processes:

  • Burning,
  • Bacterial decay and
  • Conversion to gas/liquid fuel.


Biomass can be converted into chemicals for making plastics and other products that are typically made from petroleum, in addition to electricity and fuels.

What is thermal power plant and How does a Thermal power plant work?

How Does It Work?

Biomass is converted to energy through the following process:

  • Direct combustion (burning) to produce heat

  • Thermochemical conversion is used to generate fuels in various forms such as solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels

  • Chemical conversion can generate fuels only in liquid form

  • Biological conversion to generate fuels in both liquid and gaseous forms

Direct combustion:- It is the most widely used method of converting biomass into usable energy. All biomass can be burned directly to heat buildings and water, as well as for industrial process heat and electricity generation in steam turbines.

Thermochemical conversion of biomass: It consists of pyrolysis and gasification. Both are thermal decomposition processes in which biomass feedstock materials are heated to high temperatures in closed, pressurized vessels known as gasifiers. They differ primarily in terms of process temperatures and the amount of oxygen present during the conversion process.

Hydrotreating is the process of combining bio-oil (from fast pyrolysis) with hydrogen at high temperatures and pressures in the presence of a catalyst to create renewable diesel, renewable gasoline, and renewable jet fuel.

A chemical conversion:- Transesterification is the process of converting vegetable oils, animal fats, and greases into fatty acid methyl esters (FAME), which are then used to make biodiesel.

What is Transesterification?

Transesterification is the reaction of a fat or oil with an alcohol to produce esters and glycerol.

Biological conversion:- Fermentation is a technology that is used to convert biomass into ethanol, and anaerobic digestion is used to produce renewable natural gas. Ethanol is a type of vehicle fuel. Renewable natural gas, also known as biogas or biomethane, is generated in anaerobic digesters at sewage treatment plants, as well as dairy and livestock operations. It can also form in and be collected from solid waste landfills. Renewable natural gas, when properly treated, has the same applications as fossil fuel natural gas.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Biomass Fuels


  • Renewable
  • Versatile
  • It is carbon neutral
  • Less expensive compared to other fuels


  • Not efficient
  • Not clean like other renewable energy like solar and wind
  • It leads to deforestation