Biomass is a renewable energy that converts waste into a usable source of power. This can be created from wood, plants and food industry by-products, agricultural residues, and recycled materials.
Raw biomass when put through a conversion process broadly classified as thermal, chemical, and biological can be a more efficient and practical fuel. The energy stored in these materials are a fuel source that can be combusted in a furnace to heat water to generate steam to drive turbines and generate electric.
The more common types of materials referred to as ‘Feedstock’ that are used to create biomass energy are:
Wood Products such as leaves, bark, logs and agricultural wastes such as corncobs, fruit pits and crop residues.
Solid Waste turns garbage into energy. Before being burned, harmful materials are removed from the debris.
Landfill Gas and Biogas created from the decomposition of organic materials and garbage in landfill which generates methane gas.
Alcohol Fuels: Ethanol can be created from corn and crop residue and Biodiesel is produced by chemically reacting alcohol with greases, animal fats, soybean oil or vegetable oils.
Due to the broad range of feedstocks involved, there are numerous ways to convert them into Biomass such as: Combustion, Gasification, Pyrolysis, Anaerobic Digestion or Bio Digestion and Fermentation
When using biomass as a fuel source power stations will produce more stable power output, in comparison to the intermittent power generated through wind farms and solar power.
The UK is currently one of the top importers and subsidizers of Biomass importing fuel pellets to run Biomass power stations.
Scottish Government’s, Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, 2023 states: “At present, there are no plans by industry to develop Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology at scale in Scotland. In order to enable the delivery of BECCS for power generation and biomass gasification at scale, a sustainable biomass supply chain, CCUS technology and infrastructure, and a route to market will be required.” The long term plans to increase Biomass Energy production in the UK will also require a substantial increase in growing bioenergy crops but further details on the scale and suitability of this strategy is still to be clarified so we don’t use Biomass quicker than we can grow it which in turn would generates more C02 in the air or leads to deforestation or crop degradation.
This section provides examples of a research, teaching or innovation taking place at Robert Gordon University and/or The National Subsea Centre, Aberdeen related to this topic.
Valorisation of waste biomass from the production of phycocyanin
To develop the knowledge and capability for valorisation of waste biomass from the production of phycocyanin, to develop a versatile co-product platform using green/food processing technologies delivering high quality products manufactured in a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) environment.