Advantages and Disadvantages of Biomass

Advantages and Disadvantages of Biomass

Biomass production and utilization methods is a regularly expanding field of interest in the renewable energy sector due to the sheer availability of many different biomass bases in the world as well as the ability for biomass to easily provide fuel for any number of machines with little to no mechanical conversion necessary. Unfortunately biomass, just like any other energy source available, comes with its own set of disadvantages along with its numerous advantages:

Advantages

1. A wide range of sources from plant products to animal waste can be used for biomass stock, allowing for a large variety of different items to be used for energy production throughout the world.

2. Due to the ability of most biomass to be converted into liquid combustible fuel it can easily be both combined with traditional petroleum-based fuels or used on its own for energy production purposes even in personal motor vehicles.

3. Given that much biomass is derived from plant-based stock virtually all carbon emissions generated during the combustion process can be neutralized by the re-growing of the biomass in order to create a growth/consumption equilibrium in the environment.

4. The renewable nature of biomass allows for the regular production and consumption of biomass within a local area, helping to bolster local economies and reduce the overall strain put upon areas due to trade imbalances or other import/export issues.

Disadvantages

1. The over-reliance on some traditional biomass such as corn has created an economic lashback in some areas, drastically increasing consumer food prices and reducing the overall food availability for some areas. Other heavy harvesting of plant biomass can have a negative impact upon the overall carbon absorption capabilities of an area and easily render plant biomass no longer carbon neutral in its usage.

2. Some biomass if unrefined in order to save money on production costs can be highly unsuitable for some machine usage and if usage is desired a conversion of the machine’s engine (most likely diesel) is needed to allow for compensation for the biomass product, causing additional strains and bottlenecks on biomass usage capabilities.

3. Some biomass if produced improperly can be highly damaging or deadly to humans, with even ethanol extracted from corn and used as the primary base in most biofuels and biofuel mixes carrying a potential health risk in addition to its high flammability.

4. With the reduction of available farm land as more and more areas are converted for biomass production food shortages can potentially be a problem in the foreseeable future should trade regulations not be properly developed to support production areas more fully.

In short, biomass has a number of flaws along with its benefits, yet the overall need for a renewable, reliable energy source has led to the further exploration and development of potential biomass products based on anything from algae to meat processing plant leftovers with further research and development anticipated in the future. While it is likely that many of the negative aspects currently affecting biomass usage will also be nullified with further technological or procedural advancements in the meantime they will simply remain an ongoing concern and more and more biomass is looked at for fulfilling the energy needs of the people.



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