An Introduction to Bioenergy

One of the oldest forms of energy, bioenergy has been around since man first rubbed two sticks togetherto spark a flame. In fact, today, wood is still the most prevalent source of bioenergy.

As a part of the Eco-Centric series on forms of renewable energy, we have already covered an introduction to solar and wind power. Next on the list is bioenergy, and we’ve compiled a brief introduction, below.

What is Bioenergy?

Bioenergy is any form of energy that comes from organic or biological matter. There are many sources, includingwood, plants, organic components of municipal/industrial wastes, and residues from agriculture and forestry – even fumes from landfills.

Bioenergy is broken down into three major biomass energy technologies: biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts. Biofuels are converted into liquid fuel for transportation, biopower helps generate electricity, and bioproducts are chemicals that can be used for making products.

A prime example: Today, most gasoline in the United States and Canada is laced with ethanol, a biofuel derived from processed corn.

How is Bioenergy a “Greener” Option?

Although bioenergy and biofuels generate a comparable amount of carbon emissions as fossil fuels, they are renewable sources of energy that can be more easily replenished. Additionally, bioenergy emissions are offset whenever we grow new plants (as they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).

Bioenergy’s true level of sustainability comes into question, however, as some environmental groups and research suggest that it takes many decades for this carbon offsetting process to result in zero net emissions. Still, biofuels and bioenergy are some of the fastest growing renewable energy sources, and new technologies/discoveries are hard at work to make the process as sustainable as possible.

Stay tuned here at Eco-Centric for more information on renewables, clean energy, and the latest sustainable practices/technologies. 

Resources:

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/biofuel-profile/

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/tech/bioenergy

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/bioenergy.aspx#.UdcqX-CCIfc

 

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