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Recovering energy from biomass

Recovering energy from biomass

With the increasingly stringent environmental regulations established by international agreements involving almost every country in the world, the need for clean energy sources has taken on vital importance.

Biomass plants meet these needs by using organic materials such as wood and its residues or biological waste. In fact, biomass allows us to produce the following: heat capable of warming rooms and water; electricity; and liquid fuels such as biodiesel and vegetable oils. But are there any disadvantages to these new renewable energy sources?

How a biomass power plant works: an overview

Biomass plants use agricultural, plant and forestry residues as their main fuel, broken down and reduced into piles of wood chips. These chips are placed in the furnace, where the combustion process begins. The aim is to release the heat required to evaporate the water in the thermodynamic circuit. The boiler water is held in the storage tank. Before it reaches the thermal circuit it passes through an economiser, a part of the equipment that preheats the water. Essentially, the electricity is produced as it is in conventional thermal power plants, i.e. by using a steam turbine driven by the steam generated by the boiler. At the end of the process, a condenser transforms the water vapour from the turbine back into liquid, creating a cycle.

the pros and cons of biomass energy

As with all things, using the energy produced by biomass has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s analyse the positive aspects:

  • Unconventional energy source: biomass can be renewed, since some of its sources (such as crops, manure and waste) can be reused. This renewal rarely takes a long time.
  • Carbon neutrality: biomass achieves this by guaranteeing that the carbon cycle is maintained, releasing the same amount of carbon as was previously extracted. As part of photosynthesis, carbon from the atmosphere is absorbed by plants. When the plant decays or is burned, this carbon returns to the atmosphere.
  • Widespread availability: biomass is widespread and is available in vast quantities.
  • Economic feasibility: we should also take into account that the energy harnessed by biomass is cheap and convenient – equivalent to less than one third of the cost of fossil fuels.
  • Reduced use of fossil fuels, which are harmful to the environment.

The negatives are as follows:

  • Extracting biomass can sometimes be costly. Usually, biomass projects turn out not to be feasible and must therefore be closed down earlier than expected.
  • A large area is required for the processes associated with extraction, wiring, processing, and the storage of biomass energy, which involves significant storage capacity.

Using HDPE pipes, we can transport renewable energy produced by biomass, because we believe in this new world of fossil-free energy. If you want to be part of the future with us, get in touch now to design a custom solution.

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