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Physics Biomass Energy Project

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Sumi Mudgil

on 3 April 2014

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Transcript of Physics Biomass Energy Project

Biomass in the Future:
energy from biomass
The Chemical Process:
Solar energy from the sun is transferred to plants by photosynthesis, (creating chemical energy).

When the organic matter is combusted, the chemical energy is released as heat and light.
Different Ways To Obtain Biomass Energy:
The three most common ways are:
1)combusting wood or waste
2) using leftovers from industrial processes
3)fermenting sugar-based crops.
How much of the nation's energy comes from biomass?
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 5% of our total energy is derived from biomass.(2)
Energy from Waste-To-Energy Plants:
Reduces the volume of landfill waste by 87%.
Excess landfill waste leads to ground water contamination and unstable soil.
Reduces the amount of methane
EPA regulates ash in the plants.
Non-hazardous ash can be recycled
What is Biomass?
The Pro/Con Debate:
While it is considered greener and renewable, it is more expensive than conventional fossil fuels. Many also question the sustainability of biomass. Millions of acres of forest and fields are lost annually by over collecting wood and over cultivating. This leads to deforestation and infertile land. Moreover, if the trees and crops are not replanted, the process is no longer carbon neutral.
Wood as Fuel:
Inexpensive and immediate source of energy.
Potentially renewable
Carbon neutral if trees are replanted.

The 25x25' Vision:
"By 2025, America's farms, forests, and ranches will provide 25% of the total energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed and fiber." (3)
Renewable source of energy- obtained from organic material
Most common alternative source of energy after fossil fuels
Considered a renewable source
Three main sources of biomass fuel:
agricultural waste, energy crops, and municipal solid waste
Simplest way to release biomass is by burning wood.
Combusting Wood:
Combusting Municipal Solid Waste:
About 85% of municipal solid waste (garbage) is composed of materials made from biomass. When this waste is transported to landfills, there are two things that can happen:
1) Garbage is taken to a waste-to-energy plant, where it is combusted into heat energy for producing steam or electricity. Burning the trash instead of burying it reduces the volume of waste by 87%.

"In 2011, waste-to-energy plants generated enough electricity to power about 1.3 million households." (1)
2) The trash is buried in the ground. The decomposing waste release
(a type of biogas) that can be used as energy for cooking, heating, and generating electricity
What's Methane?
Colorless and odorless biogas
Released from landfills by bacterial anaerobic respiration.
Greenhouse gas, contributing significantly to global warming.
Back to Sources for Biomass Energy....
Energy from Agricultural Waste:
Agricultural wastes (eg. manure) release methane.

Biogas digesters
Popular amongst farmers living in warm climates.
Large insulated tanks that collect the biogas .
Biomass is placed inside the digester for bacteria to decompose and create methane in th process
Methane can be burned to create electricity or heat.
Fermenting Sugar-Based Crops:
In this process, sugar based crops, such as corn and sugar cane, are placed with yeast in a vat. The yeast consumes the sugar from the crop and the biofuel
is created .
~In detail:
Biofuel that can be used in existing car engines

Considered carbon neutral

Currently, the US is the second largest producer

Majority of the gasoline sold in the US contains ethanol.
If not replanted, then not carbon neutral
Trees require a lot of land and time to grow
In DN, wood is cut and burned faster than planted and regrown.
Not efficient: creates 2/3 less energy than fossil fuels per ton
Harmful chemicals from treated wood pollute environment
Produces less pollutants than fossil fuels
Can be used in existing car engines
Reduces smog
Reduces imports of oil
Carbon neutral
Cleaner than gasoline and contains more octane
Emits more aldehyde than fossil fuels
Does not burn as easily as gasoline in cold weather
"21 pounds of corn are needed to produce just one gallon of ethanol, and farming that corn requires half a gallon of fossil fuels." (3)

Materials present in the waste can leak into the environment from the ashes.
Eg. cadmium, lead, and mercury
The 25x25' alliance, a group American farm leaders and sponsors, advocates renewable energy alternatives. The goal is to make 25% of the USA's total energy from safe renewable sources by 2025. They are targeting biomass.
Thanks for watching!
1. "Renewable Biomass," EIA Energy Kids, accessed March 5, 2014, http://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=biomass_home-basics.

2) ibid

3)Melinda Wenner, "The Next Generation of Biofuels," Scientific American, last modified March 1, 2009, accessed March 8, 2014, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-next-generation-of-biofuels/.

4)25x25', accessed March 8, 2014, http://www.25x25.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1.
FUN FACT: Energy derived from biomass is the oldest known method for obtaining energy: Cavemen burned wood for heat.
Most common and oldest source of biomass energy
Because of its affordability and its attainability, burning wood is extremely popular in developing nations
Until the mid 1800's, wood was most common source of fuel in the US
Today, wood and wood waste provide 2% of US's energy
Energy from wood used to make steam and electricity
biomass digester
We obtain 1.2 percent of our total electricity from biomass.

Four billion gallons of ethanol (about 2% of total transportation fuels) are used annually.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 20% of transportation fuels could come from biomass by 2030. Additionally, energy crops could be responsible for 14% of our total power.





44% by burning wood
45% by biofuels
11% by municipal solid waste
Full transcript