In our last article, we provided an introduction to biomass boilers in commercial settings and the benefits of these types of technologies for companies and the environment. Biomass boilers are a renewable energy source that produce heat by processing biological material. This type of heat source can reduce greenhouse emissions and potentially save your organization on heating costs.
Heat is created by processing biomass through the release of of the chemical energy stored in materials such as agriculture residues, animal/municipal waste, forestry/wood and industrial waste.
Forestry & Wood Residues
Creating energy from wood is the most common source of biomass in commercial settings. It’s a no-brainer that you can create heat from this type of biomass. In forestry, operations such as thinning of plantations, clearing for logging roads, extracting stem-wood for pulp and timber, and natural attrition can all result in residues that can create energy. Wood waste from processing industries such as sawmilling, plywood, wood panel, furniture, building components, flooring, particle board, moulding, jointing and craft industries are also perfect for biomass energy. These specific types of practices create a lot of waste (almost half the original mass) and recycling the waste seems only natural.
Industrial waste materials are generated from all sectors of the food industry world-wide. Solid wastes include peelings and scraps from fruit and vegetables, food that does not meet quality control standards, pulp and fibre from sugar and starch extraction, filter sludges and coffee grounds. Liquid wastes are generated by washing meat, fruit and vegetables, blanching fruit and vegetables, pre-cooking meats, poultry and fish, cleaning and processing operations as well as wine making. These wastes can be anaerobically digested to produce biogas, and the liquids can be fermented to to produce ethanol, both of which are used to create heat.
Agricultural residues are produced in large quantities world-wide from a vast array of farming industries, and in many cases, go un-used. Wastes such as bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. can all be processed into liquid fuels or thermochemically processed to produce electricity and heat. In many cases, one form of farming can produce multiple types of organic waste. For example, rice farming creates both straw and rice husks at the processing plant, both of which can be easily turned into energy.
Animal & Municpal Wastes
No we’re not bull-shitting you here, waste from the rear end of animals and humans can be used to create energy. Right now, the vast majority of this type of waste is collected from farms and municipalities and spread onto fields. However, biogas can be created from these types of waste using anaerobic digestion which can translate directly into energy for heat.
Creating heat energy from biomass is a win-win type of situation. You are recycling waste to create energy, and therefore not using additional costly resources like fossil fuels for your heat. It can be more cost-effective for your organization and better overall for the environment.