Biomass has been going on for thousands of years
it started out as people were burning wood to cook and boil water.
Coal fired energy systems were introduced
in the late 1800's and were usually only found in large cities in North America and Europe at this time. Biomass
grew and continued to expand until World War II.
When the war was over the petroleum
industry and cheap oil, gas and electricity in North America increased,which resulted in a move from biomass to
using individual building heating systems. Countries in Europe didn't have very many areas with fossil fuels and kept on using
biomass so that they wouldn't be depending on oil from foreign countries.
In the 70's many people were having
problems with energy shortages and lack and high prices of oil. They needed to do something about it.This
oil crisis brought up new oppurtunities for biomass, especially in the Nordic countries. Many biomass
heating plants were changed and decided to not only burn oil and garbage, but to burn many other things like woodchips,
wood waste and leftover straw.
In the 80's Biomass power was introduced.
Small power plants began producing electricty in 1982, from then on the wood fired generation expanded rapidly. Instead of
burning fuels that are non renewable, biomass power plants burn wood waste and many other things to generate electricty. Eastern Canada began to use biomass at this time too. Most big
institutions and many schools throughout the area installed biomass heating plants which were fuelled with woodchips
and sawmill waste.
In the 90's biomass power was very expensive
and this caused some of the plants to shut down. This is when we started getting oil from foreign countries, and we still
do today as well.
In the beginning most power plants only used residues
from sawmills. But as the number of operating saw mills decreased, people came up with other solid waste disposal options.
Forest thinnings, removal of orchards, agricultural byproducts, and urban wood waste. These are some of the things which are now
used to create energy. This reduces the risk of forest fires and it conserves open space for landfills.
Biomass is the energy from organic matter ( plants, residue from agriculture or forestry and
municipal and industrial waste) and is a form of buel by burning.
People use many different conversions to produce solid, liquid and gas fuels. These forms are all
used to provide heat, electricity and fuels to power vehicles.
Biomass can be used in fireplaces and kilns to heat homes, and even better... towns or cities.
To convert biomass into energy organic matter is burned in a boiler to make steam. The steam
then turns a turbine, which is connected to a generator that produces electricity. This is just one of the more simple methods
of converting biomass into energy.
Examples of using Biomass
Thinning Forests- Another way of saying "getting rid of all junk." All fallen leftovers or
dead things are removed to improve forest health and the risk of a huge forest fire is reduced.
Urban Wood Wastes- This is when waste from furniture, construction projects, wood product
manufacturing and wastes from landscape trimmings etc... Demolition wood is not used because the painting and/or other treated
woods would be environmental hazards. These treated woods have been put into landfils, wasting their potential energy and
using up landfill space. When these biodegrate they generate methane, a smelly greenhouse gas which may contribute to global
warming. To burn these would prevent the methane gas and preserve landfill space.
Agriculture- In the central and Southern Valleys of California agricultural resisidue, have
traditionally been disposed of by open-field burning. For example: orchard pruning and removals, rice crop wastes and others.
This open burning is extremely inefficient and highly polluting and a pollutant of extreme health concern.