Biomass vs Biofuel
Energy crisis is a major problem in the present world. Therefore, energy production has been the most commonly discussed topic lately. Energy sources can be divided into two types as renewable energy sources and non-renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources are replenished continuously, and they are natural. For example, wind, water, sunlight and tides are some of the renewable energy sources. Non-renewable energy sources exist only for a certain period, and they cannot be regenerated once they are gone. Coal and petroleum (fossil fuels) are non-renewable energy sources. These take millions of years to form, and once they are used, they cannot be easily regenerated. Scientists are looking for various energy sources as alternatives for the non-renewable energy sources we are using now. Other than the amount of energy produced from each of these sources, today priority is given to sources, which cause minimum environmental harm.
Anything that is alive and anything that was alive a short time ago can be categorized under biomass. Therefore, trees, crops, animal and plant waste, their dead matters are all biomass. Biomass is a major energy source, which was used even prior to the human civilization. Wood has been the earliest energy source we used to get heat. Energy contained in the biomass is derived from sunlight. When plants photosynthesize, they convert the energy of sunlight into the energy of organic food. Therefore, biomass is mainly based on carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. When animals eat plants, animals get those stored energy and through food chains, this energy is passed onto animals in all levels. Biomass produces energy, which is needed for the plants and animals. Since more plants can be grown, biomass is renewable. The energy stored within the biomass can be converted into heat energy or electrical energy. Biomass is used in large-scale power plants to produce energy, and it has reduced the consumption of oil by a significant amount. When using biomass as a fuel, it can cause air pollution due to the production of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, etc. On the other hand, combustion of biomass to produce energy saves the land space, and it does not pollute air as much as coal burning does. Further, biomass can be used to produce biogas, which can be used in our homes or farms.
Bio-fuel is mainly derived from biomass. Energy from bio-fuels is mainly used for transportation. Ethanol and biodiesel are bio-fuels, which can be used instead of gasoline. Fossil fuel burning releases large amount of green house gases. Bio-fuels have less green house emission and thus make a cleaner alternative fuel for vehicles.
What is the difference between Biomass and Bio-fuel?
• Bio-fuels are derived from biomass.
• Biomass is anything that is alive and anything that was alive a short time ago. Plants, animals and their wastes can be biomass. Bio-fuel is the energy extracted from biomass. For example, ethanol, which is produced from plant materials, is a bio-fuel.