Worldwide photosynthetic activity is estimated to store seventeen times as much energy as is consumed annually by all nations in the world. Even if the energy required for collection, processing, and conversion into other useful forms is taken into account, biomass still holds the promise to meet the complete energy needs of the world, if managed and used effectively and sustainably.
What is Biomass
The term "biomass" generally refers to renewable organic matter generated by plants through photosynthesis wherein solar energy combines with carbon dioxide (CO2) and moisture to form carbohydrates and oxygen. Materials with combustible organic matter are referred to as biomass, which consists of three basic elements that are oxygenated hydrocarbons: Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen.
Types of Biomass Resources
Biomass fuels can be classified into two main types: woody and agricultural biomass. While woody biomass comes mainly from forest trees/energy plantations, agriculture biomass comprises field based residues and process based residues. Field based residues are plant materials that remain in farm after removal of the main crop produce (e.g. straw, stalks, sticks, leaves, fibrous materials, roots, branches, twigs, etc.). Process based residues (agro-industrial residues), which are by-products of post harvest processes of crops, namely, cleaning, threshing, sieving, crushing, etc. and can be in the form of husk, dust, or straws (e.g. groundnut shells, rice husk, bagasse, corn cobs, coconut shell, coir pith, etc.). Municipal solid wastes and animal and poultry wastes are also referred to as biomass as they are biodegradable in nature.