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Monday, August 24, 2009

SEatWtC Part 20: Biomass

Biomass = Plants
Image courtesy of Independent Green Voice
Biomass = Plants


According to online sources, “Biomass, as a renewable energy source, refers to living and recently dead biological material that can be used as fuel or for industrial production. In this context, biomass refers to plant matter grown to generate electricity or produce biofuel, and it also includes plant or animal matter used for production of fibers, chemicals or heat. Biomass may also include biodegradable wastes that can be burnt as fuel. It excludes organic material which has been transformed by geological processes into substances such as coal or petroleum.”[14]

Biomass is an attractive source of energy because it renewable and there is only one generation removed between the sun and the use of biomass as energy. The problem with biomass is that it is plants, and plants are what feed humans. Any use of biomass to create electricity or transportation fuels reduces the availability of biomass to feed humans and the animals that humans consume. For example, ethanol from corn is a biomass fuel, but with the mandate that more ethanol from corn should be produced in the U.S., prices for corn have skyrocketed. Therefore biomass may not be the best selection for an economically viable renewable energy source.


Tune in Wednesday for Part 21 of SEatWtC!

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