How does biomass energy work?

How does biomass energy work?


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Biomass  covers a number of opportunities, from collecting Methane from garbage, converting organic garbage into diesel, to methanol from corn or other biomass products.

In a larger sense, remember that coal was once biomass, as was crude oil.

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Biomass energy, at the level of consumption, is virtually indistinguishable from other energy. The main difference is its source.

This process works by the degradation and break down of organic materials into methane gas. Essentially any thing that "rots" will release methane gas, this can be harvested, contained, and burned to produce heat which can be applied to make steam to drive turbines etc.

Biomass technology uses a multi-facted approach to convert what was once unusable garbage to clean and sustainable fuel and salable energy, usually in the form of steam for power generation and for the cooking of raw sewage to eliminate microorganisms before the effluent is discharged.

One process uses scrap paper that is unsuitable for recycling into other paper products, mainly recovered from septic tank effluent, greasy paper from landfills, and municipal effluent.  Basically any cellulose refuse that cannot be re-used any other way is subject to acid treatment and alcohol conversion.

We run the effluent solids through a magnetic separator, which kicks out aluminum or copper and grabs onto ferrous metals.  The remaining brown mass may contain anything from assorted plastics to dead animals.  We further separate the brown mass in a digester where we use synthetic pepsin and HCl to "digest" whatever protein there is in the mass.  We siphon off the resulting ammonia, hydrocarbons, and sulfides of hydrogen for mass separation which renders the gasses salable once refined.

We then have 85% cellulose, which we then treat with 8% H2SO4 to break the sucrose-levulose bonds from the pentosans.  We separate the pentosans from the other sugars electrolytically.

Pentosans (5-carbon sugars) are then refined and sold as cardboard sizing and base stock for certain adhesives. 

Other (6-carbon) sugars are fermentable and used as a fuel additive, with CO2 as the byproduct.

Nothing is quite as simple as it seems.

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