21 August 2008

Biomass Is a Versatile Energy Suite

Biomass can be turned into gasoline, into a renewable natural gas, into bio-coal, into ethanol, or directly into electricity. Combined cycle biomass to electricity plants can be 45% efficient generating electricity. Even more efficiency can be achieved by using the waste heat productively.

What is biomass? It is waste wood from forestry, waste stover/straw/bagasse etc. from crops, waste cardboard and paper products, byproducts of paper manufacture etc. Or biomass can be grown specifically for energy production--miscanthus, switchgrass, fast-growing poplar, bamboo, etc. are all being tested for the ability to create a prolific bio-feedstock for conversion to energy.

Biomass energy makes far more sense currently than wind energy schemes. It is suitable as a local or regional enterprise--which means that thousands of small biorefineries and biomass processors and pre-processors will be set up across North America. Biomass is far less dense than most other forms of energy, and must be converted to other forms (pellets, cubes, bales, torrefied, gasified, liquified, etc) for transport or use.

As economies of scale are achieved by the most efficient producers, a significant shakeout of less efficient biorefineries and cellulosic electricity producers will occur over time.

The replacing of fossil fuels by bioenergy will be a gradual process that takes decades, at least. You do not replace a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure overnight. Over the next 40 years, current energy infrastructure will be largely replaced by bioenergy, by new generation nuclear energy, by solar and geothermal heat-to-power, by photovoltaics, possibly by orbiting solar power sats, and not so much by wind.

Al Fin Energy has many other articles and links on this topic and other energy topics.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Bruce Hall said...

I suspect that whether it is oil or biomass, there will be opposition from "save the planet CO2 environmentalists" who see doom in combustion.

Only "clean" sources of energy will be promoted [we'll conveniently ignore the issue of batteries associated with several of these "clean" technologies] and subsidized.

I'm still of the opinion that plasma arc incineration of waste which converts the combustion into electricity makes the most sense for creating a grid of local and renewable power. Rather than building mountains of waste as monuments to our consumption, simply recycle in a way that makes great, economic sense.

Combine that with a push toward geothermal heating and cooling and energy requirements will be cut dramatically.

Get rid of government obstacles to proven technology and allow small, European turbodiesels and automobile fuel efficiency will exceed that of hybrids... with the current fuel infrastructure.

The reality of this world is that the T. Boone Pickens love to push the uneconomical and unreliable if they get the subsidies and the control. It's political science instead of real science.

Friday, 22 August, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Here is an interesting list of energy technologies .

Here is a list of waste to energy approaches currently being pursued.

The alliance of Pickens with the Luddites Pelosi and Obama, bodes ill for the energy future of America, if the Luddites gain total control next January.

Friday, 22 August, 2008  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

The long list has many... many marginal possibilities.

Practical waste recycling:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-09-09-fla-county-trash_x.htm

Friday, 22 August, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

True, but sometimes today's marginal possibilities are tomorrows mainstays.

I did an article on the Florida plasma arc garbage to energy process quite a while back. I agree that it is one of many exciting approaches to energy from waste.

Friday, 22 August, 2008  

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