Biomass energy is energy in the form of heat that is released by the decomposition of organic carbon materials such as plants. There are four main types of biomass used as sources of fuel: they are wood and agricultural products, solid waste including manure, landfill gas, and alcohol fuels. Each of these types of biomass are currently being used to derive heat into energy that is used to power facilities and communities around the world.
Landmass biofuel is the harnessed byproduct of the biochemical decomposition of organic waste materials. Organic waste materials attract decomposers, organisms such as bacteria and fungi which consume organic materials. The decomposers create methane gas as a bi-product of the decomposition-consumption process. Energy is produced when the heat that is released it is harnessed by turbines. The heat spins the turbines, generating electricity.
Another method for generating energy from waste is to ignite it. Bio-gasses such as methane are high combustion gasses. In fact methane is so highly combustible that new regulations require landfills to collect methane gas for the safety of workers. Many landfills are making efficient use of this collection process by purifying the methane and then using it as an energy source.
There are a lot of environmental incentives to producing landfill biogas. According to the Council of Concerned Scientists, even the things that we might do to enhance and speed up this the production of biogasses, such as creating landfills and supporting decomposers, are nearly environmentally neutral. Since biogas is naturally occurring and renewing, there is every incentive to simply collect it and make a profit. Otherwise we are literally letting a billion dollar economic resource burn away. Yet this clean, renewable, efficient resource is till being underutilized today.
Biogas would make a not only feasible but also an ideal energy resource in the United States. According to NDRC, natural gas represents 23 percent of U.S. primary energy consumption and has an extremely efficient energy distribution infrastructure, for this unique advantage biogas is a renewable energy resource that is already compatible with the existing (natural gas) energy grid. Biogas energy infrastructure could be speedily retrofitted and integrated into existing systems, fortifying energy independence in the United States.
A new business opportunity outlined in the National Market Value of Anaerobic Digester Products report shows that partnerships between dairy farms, food processors and retailers have the potential to solve current environmental concerns while creating a nearly $3 billion bio-economy for food and agriculture. The United States devotes a significant portion of its lands to agriculture, and high concentrated animal feeding operations known as CAFOs. A single CAFO can generate as much waste as a small to midsized city, and can affect the air quality of an area that extends far beyond the operation itself.
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, when freely released into the atmosphere it is 21 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in trapping heat. Farmers who use a biodigestion system can arrange to be paid by a carbon offset company. In 2011, bio-digestion systems on U.S. farms produced enough electricity to power the equivalent of 47,000 U.S. homes. Additionally, biodigestion systems hold the potential to slash methane emissions by 1.8 million metric tons — the equivalent pollution reduction of taking 6.5 million cars off the road. This would mean multi millions of dollars for electrical economy, agriculture, and renewable energy credits- each.
Of the renewable energies, biomass has the most potential for environmental sustainability, economic impact, and overall industry growth and integration. Biogas, it is clean burning, renewable, and easily produced. Additionally, collecting potentially dangeous methane gas instead of allowing it to escape into the atmosphere would provide invaluable site source pollution prevention. With such substantial environmental and economic incentives, the only thing this biomass energy lacks as a competing industry is substantial investment.