Biology
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Biomass

Biomass

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Bass refers to all the living things, both on land and in the water, in a particular place and at a specific time. It includes plants, animals, and microscopic organisms like bacteria. The amount of biomass in an area or volume is a useful way to understand the health and productivity of an ecosystem. For example, a healthy forest will have a higher biomass than a clear-cut area. Biomass can also be used as a source of renewable energy, such as burning wood chips or other plant materials to generate electricity. So, understanding biomass is important for both ecology and sustainable energy.

Biomass within the ecosystem

Measuring the amount of biomass in an ecosystem can be tricky as it can vary depending on the amount of water present in living organisms. The amount of carbon or dry mass can only be determined after the organism has died. In terrestrial environments such as grasslands, biomass is measured in grams per square meter, while in aquatic environments, it is measured in grams per cubic meter. Biomass is often expressed as the net change, which can be calculated using a specific equation. Understanding biomass is important for studying the health of ecosystems and identifying renewable energy sources. 

Biological pyramid of biomass

Similar to the food pyramid, the pyramid of biomass also includes producers and consumers. But instead of showing how energy moves through a food chain or web, it illustrates the energy flow within a certain area over a specific period of time. Producers, like plants, create organic molecules such as glucose through photosynthesis. Consumers, like cows and pigs, eat other organisms to gain energy. Biomass pyramids show the relationship and amount of energy between different trophic levels. The energy is measured by calculating the dry mass of living organisms. Understanding biomass pyramids is essential in understanding the balance and energy flow within an ecosystem.

Calorimetry

The chemical energy stored within the biomass (dry mass) can be estimated using a calorimeter. Calorimetry is a process used to measure the amount of heat released and absorbed during a reaction. The bomb calorimeter is a device used to measure the heat released from a specific biomass sample. The procedure for bomb calorimetry involves weighing the sample, combusting it in an oxygen-filled vessel, and measuring the temperature increase in the vessel. This temperature increase is then compared to previous sample combustions of a known substance to calculate the calorific value (CV) of the sample.

Types of biomass used in the renewable fuel industry

In the renewable fuel sector, biomass is defined as a renewable and sustainable fuel source that is derived from organic matter such as wood, crop, and animal waste. This is because the organic components can be recycled, as plants release their nutrients into the soil as they decompose. Biofuel, on the other hand, is fuel that is derived from biomass.

Biomass fuels are used in many aspects of our daily lives, with wood being the largest resource. They are seen as a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels as they do not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and can be replenished. However, there are concerns about the impact of biomass on land use and food security. The renewable fuel sector continues to research and develop new, sustainable ways to produce and use biomass fuels.

Forestry residue

When trees are removed for commercial use, there are often unwanted parts left behind in the logging sites. Pre-commercial thinning is a common practice that involves removing some trees to provide more space for others to growunfit" trees from thinning, and other unwanted parts such as diseased branches.

In Scotland, where there is 1,318,000 hectares of woodland, biomass from logging waste generates sustainable fuel for around 250,000 houses. It is possible that your house is also fueled by the Scottish forest if you live in Scotland. A significant amount of this waste is also used by industries that specialize in making use of this waste material. This process helps to minimize the amount of waste produced and contributes to a more sustainable approach to managing forest resources.

Dedicated energy crops

Crops are not only grown for food but also to provide biomass for fuel. There are two types of dedicated energy crops - herbaceous and woody.

Herbaceous crops, such as wheatgrass, are perennial plants that typically live for more than three years. Wheatgrass has high biomass and is classified as a C4 plant. C4 plants contain the enzyme PEP carboxylase, which is used in 'carbon fixation' and assimilates carbon compounds into more usable forms for the plant. These plants are more efficient than C3 plants (which use the enzyme RUBSICO) due to their high rate of photosynthesis and reduced photorespiration. Photorespiration is a wasteful pathway where the enzyme RUBISCO (in C3 plants) will use oxygen rather than carbon dioxide.

Woody plants include fast-growing hardwood trees (dicot trees) such as maple, cottonwood, and walnut trees. These trees are a valuable source of biomass fuel due to their high energy content and fast growth rate. They are also a sustainable option, as new trees can be planted to replace those harvested for biomass. The use of dedicated energy crops for biomass fuel is an important step towards reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and achieving a more sustainable future.

Agricultural crop residue and animal waste

Agricultural crop residue, such as wheat, rice straw, and corn stover, is commonly used to produce animal feed. However, it also has other benefits such as soil erosion by wind and water, as well as providing thermal protection to plants during cold temperatures.

Animal waste, including livestock manure, is another valuable agriculture used as a fertilizer providing nutrients to crops and improving. Additionally, livestock manure can be used to produce fuel, which can generate electricity for industrial and domestic heating, as well as transportation. This approach is known as anaerobic digestion, a process where microorganisms break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen to produce biogas. Biogas is a renewable energy source that can be used as a substitute for fossil fuels, contributing to a more sustainable approach to energy production. By utilizing agricultural waste and animal waste as a resource, we can reduce our reliance on non-renewable sources of energy and create a more sustainable agricultural industry.

Municipal waste and sewage

Municipal solid waste and commercial waste can be used to make refuse-derived fuel, and food waste collected with recycling can also be used as biofuel. Alternatively, food waste can be composted to create fertilizer for gardens.

Sewage sludge can also be used as a fertilizer after treatment, while the remaining water undergoes further treatment to remove harmful bacteria.

While biomass has many advantages as a renewable fuel source, there are also some disadvantages. Biomass is a renewable energy source and carbon neutral, but it is not completely clean and still produces air pollutants. It is also less efficient than fossil fuels and can require a lot of space to produce. Additionally, biomass can be expensive compared to other renewable and biomass contribute to deforestation.

Overall, while biomass has potential as a renewable fuel source, it is still in its early developmental stages compared to other renewable sources such as wind and solar power. The efficiency of biomass needs to be improved before it can be a completely viable alternative to fossil fuels.

Biological farming

Biological farming can be defined as a chemical-free method of farming practices. Biological farming focuses on improving the microbiology of the soil to increase plant growth and produce yield.

Practices to increase the efficiency in energy transfer

To increase efficiency, farmers could: Reduce respiratory losses of farmed animals, such as reducing their movement. More energy will be transferred to the human food chain. Simplify human food chains. This will also lead to higher efficiency as less energy is lost to weeds and pests. You can do this through the use of herbicides and insecticides.

Advantages of biological farming in agriculture

Biological farming practices have many advantages. By using organic fertilisers instead of artificial ones, biological farming aims to establish long-term soil fertility without requiring non-renewable resources for production. This helps to sequester carbon in the soil, which mitigates the greenhouse effect and helps to combat global warming.

Organ also use traditional and adapted seeds that are better adapted to battle diseases and more resilient to climatic stress. Additionally, organic farms can act as refugee locations for wild plants, preventing biodiversity loss in the area. By growing a diverse combination of plants and animals, soil content is improved, and the nutrients and energy are recycled. More structured soil will reduce erosion and shelter for soil-living organisms. You attract reonizing species, including birds, pollinators, and pest predators, by not using pesticides.

Overall, biological farming practices have many benefits for the environment and can contribute to more sustainable agriculture in the long term.

Disadvantages of organic farming

In addition to the advantages of organic farming, there are also some disadvantages. Organic produces a lower yield compared farming methods quality of can also fluct different years and seasons it less predictable. Organic farming can also be more expensive due to the higher cost of organic products and the more intensive work required for proper monitoring.

Regarding biomass, it is an important source of renewable energy, including crop residue, wood, municipal waste, and others However, measuring biomass within an ecosystem can be difficult due to varying amounts of water within living organisms. While biomass has advantages as a renewable fuel source, such as being carbon neutral and reducing waste, it is still in its early developmental stages and has some limitations, such as lower efficiency and space requirements.

In summary, while organic farming and biomass have their advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider. It is important to weigh both the pros and cons when making decisions about sustainable agriculture and renewable energy sources.

Biomass

What is biomass?

Biomass can be defined as the total organic matter in a given area or volume of the aquatic and terrestrial systems at a given time.

Is biomass renewable?

Biomass is renewable because it is derived from renewable sources such as manure.

What are the advantages of biomass?

Biomass is renewable and carbon neutral. Biomass has a lower dependency on burning of fossil fuels. It will therefore reduce waste. Using biomass as an energy source is less expensive than using fossil fuel.

How does biomass energy work?

Biomass is primarily produced by the producers through photosynthesis. Biomass can be burned to produce energy or converted to gaseous or liquid fuel.

What are five types of biomass?

Crop residueAnimal wasteWood and wood chipsMunicipal sewage Industrial waste

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