Developed countries, such as the U.S, rely on fossil fuels for energy. In fact, a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration reveals that primary energy consumption for the year 2020 in the U.S. was equivalent to 93 quadrillion btu.
Sources of fossil fuels such as natural gas, petroleum oil, nuclear, and coal play a significant role. They’re meeting the energy demands of the U.S. and the global society. However, these forms of energy contribute to greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions.
Lowering the use of fossil fuels is vital for environmental sustainability. Fortunately, demand for renewable energy sources has been rising in recent years. This is why renewable energy resources like solar, biomass, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric are crucial to achieve sustainability goals and mitigate climate change.
Woody biomass is a sustainable source of energy. One of the main benefits of woody biomass is that it is a carbon-neutral fuel source. Using woody biomass can help offset emissions from other fossil fuels. This makes it a crucial part of a sustainable energy strategy.
What is Woody Biomass?
Woody biomass is material obtained from woody plants and has been an important source of energy for millennia. Some notable wood energy facilities are:
- Commercial wood furnaces
- Liquid fuel refiners
- Wood pellet factories
- Power plants
Woody biomass is a natural renewable energy source from organic materials that can serve as a greener energy source. It is an attractive energy option for homes and industries as it can help generate electricity, produce heat, and be used in the creation of bio-based fuels. These can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.
Where does Woody Biomass come from?
Woody biomass material is derived from several sources. These include urban trees, logging slash and residues, and shrub prunings. Other materials include waste from wood industries and programmed forest thinning operations.
Woody plants are short rotation crops that are fast-growing. These include trees that re-sprout after every harvest. For instance, species such as willow shrubs are often cut back soon (after the first year) to allow multiple stems to grow.
In some cases, growing single stem trees for the first harvest produces woody biomass resources. These trees are then trimmed for more yield. Most wood species, however, re-sprout slowly with every harvest which means that overall yield may decline over time with multiple rotations.
What is Woody Biomass made from?
Woody biomass is organic. It’s made of materials from living organisms (plants and animals) that can be transformed into valuable energy. Common materials for making woody biomass are biomass feedstocks – wood, plants, and waste.
As mentioned above, woody biomass comes from trees and other woody plants such as shrubs. Timber is among the valuable forest products. Woody biomass is one of the tree products, woody debris, and residues. These materials may include:
- Trees that are lower quality due to disease or growing conditions.
- Cut residues from timber harvest (barks, small logs, branches, stumps, needles, and limbs).
A tree’s biomass constitutes around 25 to 45 percent of logging residues. These residues are less valuable in terms of forest product utility and they typically do not support the future growth of trees. Removal of this residue material from the forest can help stimulate growth of trees and ecosystems that improve the health of the forest. These logging residues are collected and recycled into bio-energy products like woody biomass.
In addition to these traditional collection practices, woody biomass can include perennial grasses and agricultural residues. From industrial settings, woody biomass source materials can be derived from municipal solid waste, urban wood waste, and mill residues as well.
Woody Biomass as Renewable Resource
Woody biomass is a sustainable and renewable energy source that can be a viable alternative for fossil fuels.
Through the process of pyrolysis, which breaks down biomass into constituent chemical and organic matter components, woody biomass is utilized in the creation of bio-fuels. The resulting bio-fuels can serve in a variety of applications as a source of energy for both vehicles and facilities
Woody biomass is a renewable resource that can be sustainably managed. Proper management can promote carbon sequestration. It can also be used improve soil health and enhance wildlife habitat.
***Join us next week as we continue to learn more about woody biomass at Nature’s Packaging***