Biomass Questions and Answers
Courtesy: Georgia Forestry Commission
Q: What is “biomass?”
A: Biomass is plant matter that can be converted to an energy source. It includes agricultural materials, tree residue from managed forests and wood waste from urban areas.
Q: How does biomass from forest residue differ from corn biomass?
A: It takes less energy to grow forest biomass and convert it to ethanol than it takes to grow corn and convert it to ethanol. In addition, the entire process emits fewer greenhouse gases when using forest biomass.
Q: What can be done with biomass?
A: Biomass can be converted to energy-producing ethanol and wood pellets.
Q: What is ethanol?
A: Ethanol is a “clean” gas alternative that emits no additional greenhouse gases when burned. Any gasoline powered vehicle can run on an E-10 or 10% ethanol blend. Hybrid or flex fuel cars can use an 85% ethanol/15% gas ratio.
Q: What are wood pellets used for?
A: They can be used to fuel heaters and furnaces in commercial and some residential applications. They can also be used by industry to produce steam and electricity. They are easy to handle, have high energy value and are inexpensive to transport.
Q: How does the production of biomass and ethanol affect the environment?
A: Biomass is made from forestry and agricultural by-products. The forest industry already has the infrastructure in place to gather and deliver these materials to processing locations. The production of biomass, conversion of biomass to ethanol and the burning of ethanol are considered “green” processes. They give off no harmful greenhouse gases.
Q: Why develop the biomass industry?
A: The use of ethanol can dramatically reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil. It is also more environmentally friendly than other fuels, which emit harmful greenhouse gases.