In general, biomass refers to substances
derived from organisms, such as plants and animals (Bu?kowska). Specifically,
in bioenergy content, biomass is defined as “recently living biological
material and animal wastes” (Jose). Biomass is characterized as natural and
renewable resource. Resources are identified as natural when they occur
naturally and can be used for economic benefits, while the term renewable
refers to the natural resources which have the ability to naturally replenish
in an equal or a shorter period of time when consumed (Bu?kowska).
Historically, biomass has been utilized to produce heat, steam and power, and
bioenergy-energy generated from biomass- could be used to cover part of the
high energy demand of today’s society (Jose).
energy stored in biomass originates from solar energy. Plants use the energy
from the sun the carbon dioxide that exists in the atmosphere to convert it to
glucose releasing oxygen via photosynthesis. Then, this carbon is transferred
to other organisms, like animals and microorganisms, through food chains until
it biodegraded and returns to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4)
depending on the whether the conditions are aerobic or anaerobic (Bu?kowska). So,
the CO2 is again available for the production of biomass. This is
the cycle of carbon in the atmosphere (Ragauskas).
benefit of using biomass as a fuel against fossil fuels is that biomass does
not add a new amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels, like
coal and oil, originate from fossil biomass, which requires millions of years
to be composed, and they rate of addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere
is quite small relative to the one of its consumption. However, using the
biomass, which would naturally return as carbon dioxide to the atmosphere due
to biodegradation, as fuel does not charge the atmosphere with excess carbon dioxide,
a greenhouse gas (Ragauskas).