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Biomass is a term used in several contexts: in the context of ecology it means living organisms, [1] and in the context of bioenergy it means matter from recently living (but now dead) organisms. In the latter context, there are variations in how biomass is defined, e.g. only from plants, [2] from plants and algae, [3] from plants and animals. [4] The vast majority of biomass used for bioenergy does come from plants. Bioenergy is a type of renewable energy with potential to assist with climate change mitigation. [5]


Uses in different contexts




Biomass is also used as a term for the mass of microorganisms that are used to produce industrial products like enzymes and medicines.[ citation needed ]


Examples of emerging bioproducts or biobased products include biofuels, bioenergy, biochar, starch-based and cellulose-based ethanol, bio-based adhesives, biochemicals, bioplastics, etc.[ citation needed ]

Biological wastewater treatment

In biological wastewater treatment processes, such as the activated sludge process, the term "biomass" is used to denote the mass of bacteria and other microorganisms that break down pollutants in wastewater. [6] :243 The biomass forms part of sewage sludge.


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biogas</span> Gases produced by decomposing organic matter

Biogas is a gaseous renewable energy source produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste, wastewater, and food waste. Biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion with anaerobic organisms or methanogens inside an anaerobic digester, biodigester or a bioreactor. The gas composition is primarily methane and carbon dioxide and may have small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, moisture and siloxanes. The gases methane and hydrogen can be combusted or oxidized with oxygen. This energy release allows biogas to be used as a fuel; it can be used in fuel cells and for heating purpose, such as in cooking. It can also be used in a gas engine to convert the energy in the gas into electricity and heat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biofuel</span> Type of biological fuel produced from biomass from which energy is derived

Biofuel is a fuel that is produced over a short period from biomass, rather than by the very slow natural processes involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as oil. Biofuel can be produced from plants or agricultural, domestic, or industrial biowaste. Biofuels are mostly used for transportation but can also be used for heating and electricity. Biofuels are regarded as a renewable energy source. However, the use of biofuel has been controversial because of the several disadvantages associated with the use of it. These include for example : the "food vs fuel" debate, biofuel production methods being sustainable or not, leading to deforestation and loss of biodiversity or not.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Solid fuel</span>

Solid fuel refers to various forms of solid material that can be burnt to release energy, providing heat and light through the process of combustion. Solid fuels can be contrasted with liquid fuels and gaseous fuels. Common examples of solid fuels include wood, charcoal, peat, coal, hexamine fuel tablets, dry dung, wood pellets, corn, wheat, rye, and other grains. Solid fuels are extensively used in rocketry as solid propellants. Solid fuels have been used throughout human history to create fire and solid fuel is still in widespread use throughout the world in the present day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biofilter</span> Pollution control technique

Biofiltration is a pollution control technique using a bioreactor containing living material to capture and biologically degrade pollutants. Common uses include processing waste water, capturing harmful chemicals or silt from surface runoff, and microbiotic oxidation of contaminants in air. Industrial biofiltration can be classified as the process of utilizing biological oxidation to remove volatile organic compounds, odors, and hydrocarbons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Activated sludge</span> Wastewater treatment process using aeration and a biological floc

The activated sludgeprocess is a type of biological wastewater treatment process for treating sewage or industrial wastewaters using aeration and a biological floc composed of bacteria and protozoa. It uses air and microorganisms to biologically oxidize organic pollutants, producing a waste sludge containing the oxidized material.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anaerobic digestion</span> Processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen

Anaerobic digestion is a sequence of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. The process is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels. Much of the fermentation used industrially to produce food and drink products, as well as home fermentation, uses anaerobic digestion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bioenergy</span> Energy made from recently-living organisms

Bioenergy is energy made or generated from biomass, which consists of recently living organisms, mainly plants. Types of biomass commonly used for bioenergy include wood, food crops such as corn, energy crops and waste from forests, yards, or farms. The IPCC defines bioenergy as a renewable form of energy. Bioenergy can either mitigate or increase greenhouse gas emissions. There is also agreement that local environmental impacts can be problematic.

Energy forestry is a form of forestry in which a fast-growing species of tree or woody shrub is grown specifically to provide biomass or biofuel for heating or power generation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Energy crop</span> Crops grown solely for energy production by combustion

Energy crops are low-cost and low-maintenance crops grown solely for renewable bioenergy production. The crops are processed into solid, liquid or gaseous fuels, such as pellets, bioethanol or biogas. The fuels are burned to generate electrical power or heat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aerobic granular reactor</span>

Aerobic granular reactors (AGR) or Aerobic granular sludge (AGS) are a community of microbial organisms, typically around 0.5-3mm in diameter, that remove carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other pollutants in a single sludge system. It can also be used for wastewater treatments. Aerobic granular sludge is composed of bacteria, protozoa and fungi,which allows oxygen to follow in and biologically oxidize organic pollutants. AGS is a type of wastewater treatment process for sewages and/or industrial waste treatment. AGR was first discovered by UK engineers, Edward Ardern and W.T. Lockett who were researching better ways for sewage disposal. Another scientist by the name of Dr. Gilbert Fowler, who was at the University of Manchester working on an experiment based on aeration of sewage in a bottle coated with algae. Eventually, all three scientists were able to collaborate with one another to discover AGR/AGS.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biomass (energy)</span> Biological material used as a renewable energy source

Biomass, in the context of energy production, is matter from recently living organisms which is used for bioenergy production. Examples include wood, wood residues, energy crops, agricultural residues including straw, and organic waste from industry and households. Wood and wood residues is the largest biomass energy source today. Wood can be used as a fuel directly or processed into pellet fuel or other forms of fuels. Other plants can also be used as fuel, for instance maize, switchgrass, miscanthus and bamboo. The main waste feedstocks are wood waste, agricultural waste, municipal solid waste, and manufacturing waste. Upgrading raw biomass to higher grade fuels can be achieved by different methods, broadly classified as thermal, chemical, or biochemical.

On April 25, 2006, Executive Order S-06-06, the Bioenergy Action Plan was issued by the then governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, outlining a set of target goals which would establish the increasing use and production of biofuels and biopower for both electricity generation and substitution of natural gas and petroleum within the state of California. The plan asked multiple state agencies to work towards the advancement of biomass programs in California. The order would also help provide statewide environmental protection, mitigation and economic advancement. The plan was passed on July 7, 2006, with progress reports issued in 2007 and 2009.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abengoa</span> Spanish multinational company in the green infrastructure, energy and water sectors

Abengoa, S.A. was a Spanish multinational company in the green infrastructure, energy and water sectors. The company was founded in 1941 by Javier Benjumea Puigcerver and José Manuel Abaurre Fernández-Pasalagua, and was based in Seville, Spain. Its current chairman is Gonzalo Urquijo Fernández de Araoz. After repeated bankruptcies and rescues, it declared insolvency in February 2021 amid various regulatory and financial charges against the board and management, the second-largest corporate collapse in Spanish history.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biofuel in Sweden</span> Use of renewable fuels from living organisms in Sweden

Biofuels are renewable fuels that are produced by living organisms (biomass). Biofuels can be solid, gaseous or liquid, which comes in two forms: ethanol and biodiesel and often replace fossil fuels. Many countries now use biofuels as energy sources, including Sweden. Sweden has one of the highest usages of biofuel in all of Europe, at 32%, primarily due to the widespread commitment to E85, bioheating and bioelectricity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Renewable energy in Finland</span> Overview of renewable energy in Finland

Renewable energy in Finland grew to 38.7% of total final energy consumption by year end 2014, achieving joint second position with Latvia in terms of renewable energy consumption by share amongst the EU-28 countries, behind its neighbour Sweden in first position on a 52.6% share. The 2014 share in Finland breaks down as renewable energy providing 52% of the heating and cooling sector, 31.4% of the electricity sector and 21.6% of the transport sector. By 2014, Finland had already exceeded its 2020 target for renewable energy use under the EU renewable energy directive as shown in the table of country targets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Algae fuel</span> Use of algae as a source of energy-rich oils

Algae fuel, algal biofuel, or algal oil is an alternative to liquid fossil fuels that uses algae as its source of energy-rich oils. Also, algae fuels are an alternative to commonly known biofuel sources, such as corn and sugarcane. When made from seaweed (macroalgae) it can be known as seaweed fuel or seaweed oil.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage</span>

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is the process of extracting bioenergy from biomass and capturing and storing the carbon, thereby removing it from the atmosphere. BECCS can be a "negative emissions technology" (NET). The carbon in the biomass comes from the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) which is extracted from the atmosphere by the biomass when it grows. Energy ("bioenergy") is extracted in useful forms (electricity, heat, biofuels, etc.) as the biomass is utilized through combustion, fermentation, pyrolysis or other conversion methods.

Bioproducts or bio-based products are materials, chemicals and energy derived from renewable biological material.

Algae fuel in the United States, as with other countries, is under study as a source of biofuel.


  1. Houghton, R. A. (2008-01-01), "Biomass", in Jørgensen, Sven Erik; Fath, Brian D. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Ecology, Oxford: Academic Press, pp. 448–453, ISBN   978-0-08-045405-4 , retrieved 2023-01-13
  2. "Bioenergy – Analysis". IEA. Retrieved 2023-01-13.
  3. "Bioenergy Basics". Retrieved 2023-01-13.
  4. "Biomass explained - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". Retrieved 2023-01-13.
  5. "Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" (PDF). IPCC. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-04-12.
  6. Von Sperling, M. (2015). "Wastewater Characteristics, Treatment and Disposal". Water Intelligence Online. 6: 9781780402086. doi: 10.2166/9781780402086 . ISSN   1476-1777.