Biomass, the new alternative ?
Biomass is derived from recently living organisms. It includes biodegradable residues from agriculture – from both plant and animal sources – from the forestry sector and related industries as well as biodegradable industrial and household waste.
Where does biomass come from ?
The main sources of biomass are:
- Marine and other aquatic environments,
- Green waste,
- Industries and human activities that use living and recently dead biological material.
What can biomass be used for?
Biomass has traditionally been used as a source of fuel and for industrial production. With the current rise in petrol prices, the use of biomass as a raw material in chemistry and as a fuel, common in the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, is regaining popularity.
Traditional or innovative biomaterial:
Wood and its derivatives, hemp and other plants that can be used to made textiles, are increasingly being utilised as insulating materials and even added to composite concrete. Starch from cereals or potatoes is employed to make biodegradable plastics and many other polymers.
Raw materials in chemistry:
Surfactants, solvents, bitumen solvents, inks, paints, resins, binding agents, lubricants, antifreeze products, active ingredients and essential oils used in pharmaceutics and cosmetics.
Rapeseed, sunflower, soyabean and palm oils are the basic raw materials used to make biodiesel. The so-called ‘second generation’ biofuels are derived from the cellulose found in a wide variety of non-food crops such as straw and wood.
Biofuel to produce heat and electricity:
Wood in the form of logs, chips, bark, salvage timber, granules or briquettes. Straw and crop residues.
Other sources such as grape marc, fruit kernels, waste from paper factories (black liquor, sludge), waste from local authorities etc. are used to produce biogas, which is created by the anaerobic fermentation of waste.