CT: What is BIOMASS? Biomass is biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms. In the context of biomass for energy this is often used to mean plant based material, but biomass can equally apply to both animal and vegetable derived material.
– Chemical composition
Biomass is carbon based and is composed of a mixture of organic molecules containing hydrogen, usually including atoms of oxygen, often nitrogen and also small quantities of other atoms, including alkali, alkaline earth and heavy metals. These metals are often found in functional molecules such as the porphyrins which include chlorophyll which contains magnesium.
– Plant material
The carbon used to construct biomass is absorbed from the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2) by plant life, using energy from the sun.
Plants may subsequently be eaten by animals and thus converted into animal biomass. However the primary absorption is performed by plants.
If plant material is not eaten it is generally either broken down by micro-organisms or burned:
- If broken down it releases the carbon back to the atmosphere, mainly as either carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4), depending upon the conditions and processes involved.
- If burned the carbon is returned to the atmosphere as CO2.
These processes have happened for as long as there have been plants on Earth and is part of what is known as the carbon cycle.
S: http://www.biomassenergycentre.org.uk/portal/page?_pageid=76,15049&_dad=portal (last access: 25 November 2015)
N: 1. From Latin carbo, carbonem, ‘a coal, glowing coal; charcoal’. As a non-metallic element, 1789, coined 1787 in French by Lavoisier as charbone.
2. (symbol C) a chemical element. Carbon is found in all living things, existing in a pure state as diamond and graphite.
3. 1930s; earliest use found in Journal of the American Chemical Society.
4. Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and sequestration (CCS) is a set of technologies that can greatly reduce CO2 emissions from new and existing coal- and gas-fired power plants and large industrial sources. CCS is a three-step process that includes:
- Capture of CO2 from power plants or industrial processes
- Transport of the captured and compressed CO2 (usually in pipelines).
- Underground injection and geologic sequestration (also referred to as storage) of the CO2 into deep underground rock formations. These formations are often a mile or more beneath the surface and consist of porous rock that holds the CO2. Overlying these formations are impermeable, non-porous layers of rock that trap the CO2 and prevent it from migrating upward.
5. Carbon-14 dating, also called radiocarbon dating, method of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon (carbon-14). Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere; the neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere.
S: 1. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=carbon&allowed_in_frame=0 (last access: 23 November 2015). 2 & 3. OD – http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/es/definicion/learner/carbon (last access: 23 November 2015). 4. EPA – http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ccs/ (last access: 24 November 2015). 5. EncBrit – http://global.britannica.com/science/carbon-14-dating (last access: 24 November 2015).
CR: anthracite, biomass, bituminous coal, carbohydrate, carbon footprint, carbon monoxide, chlorofluorocarbon, coal, coke, energy source, fossil fuel, hydrocarbon, lignite , methane , methanol , natural gas, peat, petroleum, phosphate , pig iron, soft brown coal.