Biomass is the mass of living organism in a given area or an ecosystem. It includes plants, animals and micro-organism. It is a renewable energy resource.Biomass is a biological material, which are basically derived from living and dead organism. Biomass includes plant and animal matter to obtain energy in the form of heat by combustion or by converting it in bio fuels and fibers. Wheat and grain are mostly used to produce large amount of energy with limited investment.
Biomass can be converted to other useful gases like methane gas or transportation fuels like ethanol and bio diesel. This fuel is also used in power stations for the generation of electricity. Rotting garbage, human waste produces methane gas while crops such as corn and sugarcane are used to produce fuels like ethanol.
Wood is the most important source of biomass from ancient time. Fuel generated from biomass is known as bio fuel. This fuel is used for domestic purposes in many developing countries.
Plant and animal matter are also used to develop fibers and bio fuels. Industrial method is also used to develop biomass from different type of plants like bamboo, corn, sugarcane etc. Based on the source of biomass, bio fuels are categorized under two categories, i.e., First generation bio fuel which is made from sugarcane and corn. The fuel obtained from them can be used as edible oil. The other is Second generation bio fuel which is obtained from animal waste. This type of fuel is produced in a very less quantity due to technological issues.
Biomass can also be classified as:
- Terrestrial Biomass
- Ocean Biomass
- Global biomass
Conversion of biomass to bio fuel is very important to obtain energy. Conversion can be done in two ways, Thermal conversion and Chemical conversion.
Thermal conversion involves heat to convert biomass to bio fuel. Energy created by burning biomass is known as dendrothermal energy. They are used in power plants for the production of energy.Chemical conversion is used to produce bio fuels which are used in transportation process. First step in conversion is gasification process, which is a very costly process and involves more technical risk.
Ecological pyramid shows the relationship between biomass and trophic levels. This shows the amount of biomass at each tropic level. The bottom of the pyramid represents the primary producers. They take energy from the environment and create energy rich molecule. 10% of this energy is passes to next trophic level to create a new biomass. Rest 90% is used in metabolic process or is liberated out as heat.
Terrestrial biomass decreases at higher trophic levels. This type of biomass includes grasses, trees and shrubs. They have a much higher biomass than animals.
Ocean biomass is reverse of terrestrial biomass. They increase at higher trophic levels. Phytoplanktons are the primary producers, while predatory fish, marine mammals come under fourth trophic level.
Global bio masses of species are mostly found on land and approx 5-10 billion tons are found in oceans. Plant biomass is present on a much larger amount than animals.