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Biomass is a broad term that refers to organic materials found in nature that can be used as a renewable energy source. These organic materials can come from plants, animals, and microorganisms and exist in various forms and states.

Biomass is a resource for us humans for many different applications, but today we will focus on “biomasses in relation to energy production.”

Facts regarding biomass:

  1. Types/forms of biomass that can be used in energy production: e.g., wood, agricultural residues, animal manure, algae, food waste, and wastewater
  2. Energy production using various processes: Combustion (heat), gasification (production of syngas), and fermentation (biofuels, biogas, heat).
  3. Sustainable: renewable resource that will not be depleted if properly managed
  4. Environmental impact: with sustainable cultivation methods and efficient cultivation methods held the missions to reduce
  5. Biofuels: e.g., vegetable oil and ethanol can replace transportation fuels
  6. Disadvantages: Land use and competition with food crops

Another important fact is that biomass is strongly anthropogenic. In 2018, there was an estimate in which the biomass was divided among different life forms: Plants accounted for the largest share at 82%, followed by microorganisms at 13%. Animals and fungi accounted for 4%, with humans making up only 0.01% of this total. The distribution of land mammals was as follows: Domestic and farm animals, which included pigs and cattle, accounted for the majority at 60%. Humans had a 36% share, while wild animals accounted for only 4% of the total biomass. In terms of weight, there were 15 times more domestic and farm animals compared to wild animals. Within bird populations, 70% of the biomass consisted of poultry and 30% of wild birds.

So man already has “everything in hand” and now he has to get a grip on the “everything”. We, as Es-goes!, carry out biomass studies. These studies are of great importance for concept development in the areas of “bioeconomy” and “regional development”, but also in “neighborhoods” and “business parks”, because the potentials generate regional added value.

We would like to tell you where the biomass resources in a region (community, municipality, etc.) are located and can possibly be energetically utilized, as well as what has to be considered.

In order to carry out the biomass studies successfully and to develop long-term solutions, material flow analyses are carried out in the following areas:

  • Waste:
    • Municipal disposal:
      • Green cuttings (municipal and private tree and hedge cuttings).
      • Road and railside greenery
      • Landscape wood
      • Commercial disposal:
    • Biowaste
      • Waste wood
      • Sewage sludge 
  • Forestry
    • Solid wood
    • Residual wood
    • energy wood cultivation
  •  Agriculture
    • Energy crop cultivation
    • Grass clippings
    • Liquid and solid manure

A Stroffstrom analysis in this area allows us to discover the unused potentials and to develop long-term solutions for them. Since we work solution-oriented, we consider the following aspects:

  • Biomass is versatile and therefore the already established cycles are not challenged in the study (in forestry and agriculture, but also in waste disposal)
  • Agriculture has its own cycles, which are to be respected (e.g. experience shows that 80% of the cereal straw is distributed and recycled in regional livestock farming)
  • “Energy cultivation” must not compete with “food cultivation” under any circumstances.
  • In biogas production, the solutions for heat and nutrient-rich substrate must also be considered
  • The most important point: we talk to farmers and make sure that every year there are enough pumpkins in circulation for Halloween

We hope that we could give you an understanding of what biomass is. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Kevin Kaiser. Do you have any wishes regarding future articles in the “What is…?” series? Then let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to cover the topic.

Your Es-geht! Team