What is biomass fuel, and what it is used for?


Quick Answer

Biomass fuel is made from organic materials such as scrap lumber and forest debris (that would otherwise fill up landfills) in order to create a renewable and sustainable source of energy. It is used to generate electricity and heat, among other sources of power. It is a carbon neutral alternative to other fuels.

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Full Answer

Biomass power plants burns organic materials to heat up water and generate steam. This steam either drives a turbine that generates electricity or is directly used to provide heat to industrial buildings or homes. Direct combustion of biomass fuel is typically energy inefficient and causes lots of pollution, so it is sometimes mixed and burned with coal in a process known as co-firing. The biomass fuel can also be heated under pressure and, in a carefully controlled presence of oxygen, converted to a mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide that can be used directly with a gas turbine. Due to advancements in technology, the emissions generated from burning the biomass are less than those from fossil fuels. Biomass fuel can be made from energy crops that are not used for food, including grasses and trees which, if not harvested carefully, can pose an environmental risk and damage ecosystems.

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