The Combustion of Biomass

Biomass energy generation is the conversion of biological material to energy. There are three main approaches to biomass energy generation. These are as follows:


  1. Biochemical Conversion: Use of enzymes and other microorganisms to break down the biomass (e.g. anaerobic digestion).


  1. Chemical Conversion: Converting biomass into biofuel.


  1. Thermal conversion: A range of processes in which heat is the dominant mechanism to convert the biomass into another chemical form. These technologies involve combustion, gasification, and pyrolysis.


Projects under current development and build-out by the Element Renewables Group involve the supply of biomass for thermal conversion, in the form of chips or pellets, and the construction of power plants utilizing biomass to produce electricity. Combustion projects are the simplest biomass projects because the organic matter is burned to produce heat which in turn is used to generate electricity with either steam turbines or Organic Rankine Cycle technology.  There is a range of biomass technologies capable of effective thermal conversion of biomass.  A detailed description of each technology is beyond the scope of this Memorandum.  But the most commonly used of these technologies are biomass-fired boilers combined with steam turbines; and bio-gasifiers producing combustible syngas to drive engine generators.  Each of these technologies is capable of combusting a broad range of biomass, including, rice husks, woody material, energy grasses, coconut and palm shells, and bagasse.

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