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What is Bioenergy and Can it Be a Good Enough Energy Source?

The entire world is on the lookout for some alternative energy sources, and what often stands out as one of the possible solutions is bioenergy. If you have heard of it already, but you don’t quite understand what it entails, then chances are that you have a lot of questions on your mind.

From what it is and how it is produced, to whether it can actually be a good enough energy source… There are lots of things that are still not quite clear to you. And, it is time to get to the bottom of those things.

The concerns about climate change are making countries all over the world rethink their energy production approaches, and consider some alternative and renewable sources.

So, it is no wonder that bioenergy is gaining a lot of popularity recently, because it is the alternative method that could just wind up solving some problems related to fossil fuels and climate change itself.

Playing a part in making the world a better place is certainly important, and if bioenergy can contribute to that, then it is no wonder that everyone is trying to learn about it.

Before you can come to a conclusion of your own regarding whether bioenergy can be a good enough source or not, you will want to have some of those more basic questions answered for you.

What exactly does this concept entail? How is bioenergy produced? How is it used and is it environmentally friendly?

Those are some of the things you are wondering, so let us now take the time to answer them for you, hoping to shed enough light on the whole concept and thus lead you to more easily forming your own opinion on the value of this particular source.

What is Bioenergy?

So, what exactly is bioenergy? As you can read here, it refers to the energy that is derived from organic materials. Since those kinds of materials are appearing over and over again, it means that the source is renewable.

They can include wood, algae, agricultural residues, animal waste, as well as some dedicated energy crops, such as willow or switchgrass.

These materials can then be used for the production of electricity, making sure that we never run out of the sources necessary for its generation, as well as possibly having a better impact on the entire environment.

Let us not get ahead of ourselves, though. You could now argue that fossil fuel also comes from organic matter originally and you wouldn’t be wrong.

The difference is, though, that, in bioenergy, you use different types of plant and animal material so as to produce energy.

And, naturally, new methods of doing this are constantly being researched, so we may witness some great breakthroughs regarding this entire concept in the future.

How is it Produced?

If you are now wondering how bioenergy is actually produced, let us get to the bottom of that. There are multiple different methods through which you can turn biomass into energy.

And, we are now going to explore the most common ones, aiming at providing you with a better understanding about how all of this works. So, let’s check them out.

First off, there is direct combustion, a method that involves burning those organic materials in order to produce electricity or heat. This is the simplest and the most common way of doing things.

Although, researchers are still working at improving the method, and at coming up with some tricks that could make the entire process more efficient, while also leading to lower emissions.

Adding sand to the biomass while burning is one of those tricks that can be used, because the sand makes the biomass burn more evenly when it melts.

Moving on, there is also the method of gasification. This is basically a chemical process that consists of heating the solid biomass to between 800 and 1000 degrees Celsius, while at the same time limiting oxygen supply. Resulting in the conversion of biomass into synthesis gas.

The syngas consists of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and methane, and it can then be used for the production of power.

In addition to the above, there is a method called anaerobic decomposition, referring to the process of biological decomposition without oxygen. This way, biogas composed mainly of methane and carbon dioxide is produced.

And, it can later be used as a renewable fuel for the production of electricity. It is worth mentioning that anaerobic decomposition happens naturally in certain places, such as swamps, or even landfills.

What Are its Applications?

If the next thing you want to know is what the application of bioenergi actually is, then you have come to the right place. After all, that is the question that we will answer right now.

There are, without a doubt, plenty of different areas in which bioenergy can be used, meaning that it can find diverse applications in numerous sectors. Let’s talk about some of those.

For starters, the biomass is commonly used for the generation of heat and electricity in all settings, residential, commercial and industrial. This is done through combustion and gasification, the two methods I have mentioned above.

And, of course, apart from happening on a larger scale in those heating centers, it also happens on a lower scale in people’s households and other types of settings.

Next, we cannot fail to mention the biofuels, such as bioethanol and biodiesel, that can serve as renewable alternatives to fossil fuel. Thus, they can be used in the transportation industry, powering not only vehicles, but also airplanes and ships.

Bioethanol is produced by fermenting biomass with a lot of carbohydrates, and the biodiesel can be made by mixing vegetable oil or animal fat with alcohol.

The energy derived from biomass can be quite significant in industrial settings. This is because it can replace the fossil fuels during some manufacturing processes.

While we may not expect not to rely on fossil fuels at all, the reliance can at least be reduced, which will automatically lower carbon emissions.

Is it Environmentally Friendly?

Thanks to the fact that bioenergi can help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions, this renewable source is undeniably environmentally friendly.

Nevertheless, we have to be responsible when producing it too, if we don’t want the process to have any negative consequences for the environment.

For example, if a tree is burned for these purposes, planting a new one is extremely important, so that we don’t run out of sources in the long-run.

Can It Be a Good Energy Source?

Let us now move on to the main question of the day, that will sum up the value of bioenergy in general. In short, it has an enormous potential to drive the entire world towards a more sustainable and a more environmentally friendly energy production process, especially in those resources that are abundant in biomass resources.

Sure, the concept is not without challenges and issues, but constant research is being done towards improving it and towards coming up with the best possible solutions that will result in stable energy production, while at the same time having a positive impact on our environment and on the entire planet for that matter.

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