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How does biomass work?

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Quick Answer

Biomass energy works by harnessing the energy created from burning or decomposing plant and animal waste. Biomass energy is important because it is a readily renewable source of energy.

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Biomass energy is renewable because plants can grow continuously and their waste may be utilized to produce energy. It reduces harmful emissions that deplete the ozone. Using biomass energy bolsters the economy and lessens dependence on foreign oil.

Burning wood is one source of biomass energy. Wood may be used for heat, cooking or industrial energy when burned. Wood may also be burned to aid in the production of electricity, because burning wood is capable of producing heat that may be used to provide steam for spinning turbines. Burning wood is used in many manufacturing plants to produce power.

Around 50 percent of the waste found in landfills is biomass material that could be used as an energy source, such as paper, cardboard, wood, grass clippings and food scraps. Waste-to-energy plants produce energy by burning such biomass waste.

Biofuels are fuels created by harnessing biomass energy. Ethanol and biodiesel are biofuels. These fuels are "clean" fuels that are safer for the environment than traditional fuels. As of 2014, these fuels can only be used in specialized vehicles, but may be combined with regular fuels for use in standard vehicles.

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