Creating energy and fuel from biomass
Biomass energy includes biogas, liquid biofuels (biodiesel, ethanol, methanol, butanol), and solid biofuels (typically wood, but could be any solid burned to create energy from heat). Solid biofuels can be burned directly to create energy, but both biogas and liquid biofuels must go through a conversion process to become usable fuel.
There are several processes that convert biomass to fuels that power homes, create fuel for vehicles, and fulfill other energy needs. How biomass is processed depends on the type of biomass (e.g., manure or oilseed crops) and how it will be used (e.g., to fuel cars or power generators). The three main processes by which energy can be obtained from biomass are:
Direct consumption by burning solid fuel to power generators.
Bacterial decomposition, which is also called anaerobic digestion. In this process, bacteria digest wet waste without being exposed to oxygen to create methane gas.
Conversion to liquid or gaseous fuels.