Biomass Gasification is a sound solution for generating energy from renewable sources and helping to lower the overall effects of global warming.
Biomass waste is a term for such material as agricultural and forest byproducts such as; hog fuel, slash waste, sawdust and shavings, rice hulls, corn stover, sugar cane bagasse, animal waste an others, in addition to the sorted paper and cardboard portion of municipal solid waste and non-toxic sewage sludge materials. These waste streams represent both an asset, when used as energy, or an environmental liability, when improperly or overly disposed.The energy potential represented by biomass waste is estimated at 2,740 quadrillion British Thermal Units (Btu’s), while the total annual world consumption of energy from all sources is estimated at 340 quadrillion Btu’s. At present, only about seven percent of the world’s production of biomass is converted into energy. Disposition of these biological products in capacity-limited landfills creates a myriad of adverse environmental impacts; atmospheric pollutants from landfill decay, ground and surface water contamination and uncontrolled bacteriological and algae growth.During the past several years, a global concern has been raised regarding the potentially harmful effects from the process of incineration. These warning flags of concern have been waved by such politically active groups as Green Peace, World Wild Life Association, the Audubon Society, etc. Perhaps, with a better understanding of the environmental pollutants, the chemical constituents, formation mechanism, methods for prevention of their formation and a basic understanding of oxidative chemistry will educate a more receptive audience for an improved methodology for the energy conversion of biomass.
Gasification is a technology that has been widely used in commercial applications for more than 50 years in the production of fuels and chemicals. Current trends in the chemical manufacturing and petroleum refinery industries indicate that use of gasification facilities to produce synthesis gas (“Syngas”) will continue to increase.
Attractive features of the technology include: 1) the ability to produce a consistent, high-quality syngas product that can be used for energy production; and 2) the ability to accommodate a wide variety of gaseous, liquid, and solid feedstocks. Gasification offers many clear advantages to mass burn incineration in which the biomass is incinerated in the same, un-segregated physical form as collected and delivered. Mass burn technologies are energy inefficient, and as the feed is constantly changing, the products of combustion are constantly changing, requiring elaborate and expensive air pollution control equipment. Remnant ash from the gasifier may be used in the manufacture of cement or sold as a soil amendment or disposed of in a landfill as biologically inert and disease free, eliminating the anaerobic production of odoriferous landfill gas and leachate. The evolved Syngas is remarkably constant in chemical composition and potential energy, reducing the complexity of control of the oxidation reaction in the boiler.
Utilizing biomass waste as a primary fuel will eliminate thousands of tons per year of carbon dioxide that would have been released from the burning of fossil fuel in the creation of an equal amount of energy.
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