Biomass


Biomass has all the potential to become one of the most commonly utilized renewable energy source after hydropower for the power generation. The biomass is usually an industry term applies to organic matter that has stored energy through the process of photosynthesis. Being an energy source, biomass can either be utilized directly through combustion for producing heat, or indirectly after converting it to various forms of bio fuel.

The biomass exists in one form as plants and may be transferred through the food chain to animals' bodies and their wastes, all of which can be converted for everyday human use through processes such as combustion, which releases the carbon dioxide stored in the plant material. Much of the biomass fuels used today is available in the form of dry vegetation, residual crops, wood material, and aquatic plants. Biomass is one of the most plentiful and well-utilised sources of renewable energy in the world.

Historically, for around millions of years, biomass has been converted by partial-pyrolisis to charcoal, which has been used in metallurgical processes. Woody biomass accounts for much of the primary energy consumed in most of the developing world, primarily for cooking and space heating. It is used to produce steam, to operate turbines to generate electricity. Currently, the biomass is mostly used for off-grid electricity generation on a large industrial scale.

The evaluation of biomass as a viable solution carries two big issues. First is the issue of farming and production of biomass keeping in view the climatic variations and availability of cultivable land and second is the conversion of biomass into usable power. Apart from these issues there are other limitation. For instance, the use of wood and other plant material for fuel may mean deforestation. Problems associated with cutting forests includes groundwater contamination and irreversible erosion patterns that could literally change the structure of the world ecology. However, benefits includes the replacement of coal by biomass which could result in a considerable reduction in net carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Pakistan is richly endowed with biomass resources, though overall energy potential is yet to be scientifically determined. Biomass resources are generated from agricultural, agro industrial and forestry operations. The main constituents from the different sources are:

 

  • Agricultural-Stalk, straws & trashes
  • Agro-industrial-Bagasse, paddy husks & shells
  • Forestry-Wood chips, barks & trims and river side greens