Biomass Energy | Benefits and Typical Applications of Biomass

 Biomass Energy
Biomass Energy

Biomass in the form of firewood was perhaps the first source of energy used by humans and was the main burner until the Industrial Revolution, after which fossil fuels like coal and oil replaced biomass as the main fuel. Biomass is still an important fuel in developing countries. According to the International Energy Agency, energy from biomass accounted for 11% of the world’s final energy consumption in 2001 (Karekezi, Lata and Coelho 2004). In Latin America, this proportion was 18%, in Asia 25% and in Africa 49%.
Biomass energy offers several benefits in terms of energy security, socio-economic development and the environment.

Energy security

Decentralized energy from biomass could help to significantly reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Rural economic growth

Biomass energy could promote growth in agriculture, forestry and rural industries leading to general rural development. In addition to plantations, biomass energy could also offer a productive way of using agricultural and forestry waste.

Environmental Protection

By balancing the use of fossil fuels and related emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants, the energy from biomass will contribute to clean air and water. In addition, increasing the number of carbon fusing plants will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute worldwide.
It is estimated that around 2.4 billion people worldwide rely primarily on biomass fuels to provide energy for cooking. In addition to cooking, biomass fuels are also used for process heating, steam generation, mechanical and shaft power, transport fuels and power generation.

Examples of biomass commonly used as fuel include:

⦁ Firewood,
⦁ agricultural residues such as husks and stalks,
⦁ Vegetable oils and
⦁ animal waste.

In recent years the world has seen tremendous interest in biofuels and a great deal of research has been directed towards finding new biomass resources and processes for producing biofuels.
A variety of physical, thermochemical, chemical and biochemical processes are used to convert biomass into energy. In this chapter, we will examine three modern biomass energy technologies (see Table 1.1) that can be applied in a decentralized manner and that have proven useful in the context of developing countries.

Table 1.1. Decentralized modern biomass energy technologies

A variety of physical, thermochemical, chemical and biochemical processes are used to convert biomass into energy. In this chapter, we will examine three modern biomass energy technologies (see Table 1.1) that can be applied in a decentralized manner and that have proven useful in the context of developing countries.

 

Table 1.1. Decentralized modern biomass energy technologies

technologyType of biomassConversion processTerminate applicationsTechnology status
Biomass
gasification
Wood, woody
biomass, agro and
agribusiness
residues
Thermochemical
process which
converts biomass
into producer gas
Power generation:
10 kW -1000 kWe.
Thermal applications in
small industries up to 3
MWth.
Dual fuel and
100% gas
engine based
carburettors
available
commercially
BiogasAnimal faecesBio-methanation
process which
converts biomass
into biogas
Household Cooking,
Driving, and
Power Generation
Dung-based
plants
often have to be
built.
BiofuelsInedible
vegetable oil
seeds
Extraction of bio-oil
from the oil seeds.
Biodiesel
production through
transesterification
Driving force and
power generation
Biodiesel and
Straight
Vegetable
Oil (SVO)
as shown
fuels for
transportation
and power
generation.

In general, the conversion efficiencies are very high compared to the traditional technologies for biomass energy production (e.g. traditional wood-burning stoves) it is common that these processes also produce a large number of nutrients for sustainable agriculture, e.g. Liquid manure from biogas plants, oilseed cake made from vegetable oil seeds (Karekezi, Lata and Coelho 2004).

Successful project

One of the first successful applications of a biomass gasifier for rural electrification in off-grid mode is the 500 kW gasifier plant on the Gosaba island of Sundarban in India.
The plant was built in 1997 and consists of 5 x100 kWe units. The gasifiers are closed extraction systems based on wood biomass. The system has dual-fuel engines. The transmission and distribution line extends over a length of 6.25 km of high-voltage line and 13.67 km of low-voltage line. The plant supplies around 900 consumers. The facility is managed by a local cooperative and the state government.

Typical uses of biomass

During the Second World War, carburettors were mainly used for transportation purposes. In recent years, however, carburettors have mainly been used for stationary applications.

A. Electricity generation

To generate electricity, the gas from the biomass gasifier is first cleaned and cooled and then used as fuel in an internal combustion engine. A generator coupled to the engine generates electricity.
Biomass gasoline engine sets are typically available in outputs from 10 kW to 500 kW. Two types of motors are used. Diesel engines are modified and can be operated with a mixture of diesel and production gas. These are known as dual-fuel engines. As a rule, 60 to 85% diesel is replaced by generator gas. 100% producer gas engines are now also available – as the name suggests, these can be operated with 100% producer gas.
Electricity generation based on biomass gasifiers was typically used for three types of applications:

A.1 Village electrification in off-grid mode

In recent years biomass gasifiers have been used to electrify remote villages. The size of such systems can vary from 10 kW to 500 kW. In India, several of the smaller biomass gasification systems (10-20 kWe) were built under two government proposals called the Remote Village Electrification (RVE) and the Village Energy Security Program (VESP). In addition to the government programs, several NGOs and companies have set up such systems.
There have been some cases on Gosaba Island in Sundarbans, India, such as a 500 kW biomass gasifier based power plant using large capacity gasifiers.

Gosaba rural electrification project

One of the first successful applications of the biomass gasifier for rural electrification in off-grid operation is a 500 kWe gasifier system on the Gosaba island of Sundarban in India. The plant was built in 1997 and consists of 5 x 100 kW units. The gasifiers are closed extraction systems based on wood biomass. The system has dual-fuel engines.
The transmission and distribution line is distributed over a length of 6.25 km of high-voltage line and 13.67 km of low-voltage line. The plant supplies around 900 consumers. The facility is managed by a local cooperative and the state government.

A.2 Grid-connected biomass gasification power plants

There are a few examples of on-grid biomass gasification power plants. These are relatively large carburettors with outputs in the range of several hundred kilowatts. A typical example is shown below

Arashi Hi-Tech BioPower Pvt Ltd, Sulthanpet, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

Arashi Hitech Bio makes an independent power The manufacturer (IPP) has built a gas-fired power plant that is connected to the state grid. It is located in the village of Sultanpet in the Coimbatore district of Tamilnadu, where coconut shells are abundant. The power plant comprises a biomass processing system, a gasification system, a PLC-based automation and control system, a full-fledged water treatment system, a power pack and an energy drainage system. In the first phase, in July 2002, an 800 kg / h gasification system with a marine diesel engine with low speed was integrated.
The power plant was operated in two-fuel operation with an average load of 600 kW for almost 6000 hours. The average liquid fossil substitute is 68%, the specific biomass consumption is between 0.6 and 0.7 kg / kWh. Recently the dual-fuel engine was replaced by 5 x 250 kW gas engines.

A.3 Biomass gasifier for self-generation of electricity

Biomass gasification plants in an industry or an institute are usually used as a captive power generation unit. 

B. Thermal applications

A very large number of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) use biomass and fissile fuels to generate heat. Given the continued rise in the price of fossil fuels and their scarcity (quota) in the free market, many of these small businesses face serious problems in controlling the cost of fuel and thus maintaining competitive prices to exist in the market.
The gasification technology offers them an option to have all the advantages of gaseous fuels with comparatively cheaper, locally available solid biomass fuels. There are various fuel-fired stoves that are ideal for converting to biomass generator gas. The work is listed in

ArtApplication / temperature (° C)
Forge furnace1200 -1250
Temper rolling mills900-1200
Directly fired process heatingFood, textiles, paper, printing, chemicals, rubber, plywood and
plastics industries
dryerPaper, cardboard, wood and timber, textiles, ceramics,
tobacco, plastics, paint, food and pharmaceutical industries
OvensPlaster of Paris, glass-ceramic plumbers, brick, and
structural clay and concrete industries.
OvensLow temperature (between 20 and 370 degrees
Celsius) cooking, baking, curing or vulcanizing (a
treatment that stabilizes and gives elasticity) rubber or
plastic. The food industry uses ovens to make bread, biscuit
crackers, pretzels, while the rubber and plastics industries use
the lower temperature found in ovens in
production of tires, shoes, hosiery and rubber bands (e.g.
fan belts).
Small boilerDifferent industries
Table 4

There is now a great deal of experience in the use of thermal gasifiers for industrial applications. Good documentation of the various applications can be found in CII (2005).