Bioenergy End-Products and Their Uses

Bioenergy is a form of renewable energy and comes from materials derived from recently living organisms including plants, animals and their byproducts.  Forms of bioenergy include power, heat, and liquid and gas fuels (figure 2.1).  There are many uses of these various forms of bioenergy, discussed in greater detail below.

Figure 2.1 Bioenergy products and their end-uses.  (CL Williams, 2011.)


Biopower is electricity generated from combustion of biomass, either alone or in combination with coal, natural gas or other fuel (termed co-firing).  Most biopower plants are direct-fired systems: biomass feedstocks are burned in a boiler to produce high-pressure steam that runs turbines connected to electric generators.  The electricity produced can be distributed for industrial, residential or commercial use. The steam generated from combustion of biomass feedstocks can also be used directly power mechanical processes in industrial settings.  Technical challenges in biopower generation involve feedstock quality, boiler chemistry, ash deposition and ash disposal.  However, these challenges are being resolved as the technology advances.  Boiler efficiency in co-firing may be reduced slightly compared to the efficiency of firing 100% fossil fuel feedstocks, due to high moisture content of the biomass feedstock.  Biomass co-fired in a coal power plant can assist the utility in meeting renewable energy standards and help cut pollution from coal burning. However, electricity generation is a relatively inefficient process; two thirds of the energy generated is wasted as heat to the environment.

Biopower is electricity generated from combustion of biomass, either alone or in combination with coal, natural gas or other fuel (termed co-firing).  Most biopower plants are direct-fired systems: biomass feedstocks are burned in a boiler to produce high-pressure steam that runs turbines connected to electric generators.  The electricity produced can be distributed for industrial, residential or commercial use.The steam generated from combustion of biomass feedstocks can also be used directly power mechanical processes in industrial settings.  Technical challenges in biopower generation involve feedstock quality, boiler chemistry, ash deposition and ash disposal.  However, these challenges are being resolved as the technology advances.  Boiler efficiency in co-firing may be reduced slightly compared to 100% fossil fuel feedstocks, and is usually due to high moisture content of the biomass feedstock. Co-firing is generally thought to be feasible at most coal-fired plants.

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