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What is Biomass? Exploring a Sustainable Energy Source

May 3rd, 2024

Last updated: May 3rd, 2024

You may have seen a number of different appliances that now run on biomass fuel, but what is biomass, exactly? Is this really the efficient fuel source we’ve been waiting for, and how does it compare to other fuel sources?

In this guide, we’ll explore biomass, whether it could be an option for your business, and whether it is good or bad for the environment.

What is Biomass?

Biomass refers to organic material that comes from plants and animals, such as wood, crop residues, animal waste, and organic municipal waste.

This organic matter can be converted into energy through various processes, including combustion, gasification, and fermentation, and this can then be used to run things like biomass boilers, generators, and more. Biomass is considered a renewable energy source because it can be replenished relatively quickly compared to fossil fuels. While we can’t quickly grow more fossil fuels, we can create biomass, and often do as part of other industrial processes.

Why is Biomass Used for Energy?

Other forms of fuel are still possible, and when it comes to boiler technology, oil boilers and gas boilers are still popular, partially because many have been in place for so long. However, the use of biomass is growing.

Biomass is used for energy production for several reasons:

  • It is a renewable source. Biomass can be sustainably sourced and replenished, making it an environmentally friendly alternative to limited (and running out) fossil fuels.
  • It may be carbon neutral. When burned, biomass releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. However, because plants absorb CO2 during photosynthesis, the carbon emitted from biomass combustion is offset by the carbon absorbed during the plant’s growth, often making it carbon neutral.
  • Biomass can be converted into various forms of energy, including heat, electricity, and biofuels, making it a versatile energy source suitable for different applications.
  • Reusing waste. Utilising biomass for energy production helps reduce waste disposal and promotes recycling of organic materials. Some materials used for biomass are byproducts of farming and other industrial processes. It makes sense to put them to use.

So, you can see why biomass has really taken off, especially if we compare it to some of the older forms of energy, which rely on fuel sources that are already depleted.

Is This More Efficient Than Oil and Other Heating Methods?

The efficiency of biomass compared to oil and other heating methods depends on various factors, including the type of biomass used, the efficiency of the heating system, and local conditions.

There may be scenarios where heat pumps may be even more efficient, or where solar-power means you can use electricity while leaving no footprint, but these are just some of the options. Biomass burning does release some pollutants, which means it is not 100% perfect, but it is far better than many of the other methods, especially in terms of using resources.

In general, modern biomass boilers and heating systems can achieve high levels of efficiency, often comparable to or even exceeding the efficiency of oil-fired boilers. Additionally, biomass offers the advantage of being a renewable and carbon-neutral energy source, making it an attractive option for environmentally conscious consumers.

Biomass Boilers

One of the most popular uses of this fuel is biomass boilers. As you may have already worked out, these are boilers that burn renewable sources like wood, waste, and energy, and generate heat and electricity. Facilities like this are commonly used in larger premises, such as factories, hospitals and universities. Smaller commercial buildings may potentially look to some other options to retain an element of renewable energy, save money, and try to do their bit for the environment.

Of course, to keep your biomass boiler running at its optimum, it is important to regularly get it maintained and serviced to ensure that it is burning properly and not wasting materials. Servicing is also crucial for safety and can extend the life of your boiler.

Biomass furnaces can be integrated into existing heating systems to supplement or replace traditional fossil fuel boilers, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainability. If you are looking for a new boiler system and want an efficient and renewable way to do things, biomass is an option you may want to consider.

Robinsons Facilities Services is one of Yorkshire’s top commercial boiler maintenance providers. From emergency breakdowns to regular servicing and maintenance, we provide fast and efficient service from a team you can trust.

Give us a call at 01423 226578 or visit our Contact Us page to learn more about our facilities management services.

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