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Dr. S.

Suresh lecture note at the MANIT


Bhopal on Bioenergy Engineering"

BIOMASS SOURCES, CHARACTERISTICS


AND CLASSIFICATION

Dr. S. Suresh
Assistant Professor,
Department of Chemical Engineering, MANIT, Bhopal462 007, MP, India
Email: sureshpecchem@gmail.com

Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT


Bhopal on Bioenergy Engineering"

BIOMASS SOURCES, CHARACTERISTICS


Biomass encompasses among others, vegetation, energy crops, as well as biosolids, animal, forestry
and agricultural residues, the organic fraction of municipal waste and certain types of industrial wastes.
Its appeal is due to its potential worldwide availability, its conversion efficiency and its ability to be
produced and consumed on a CO2-neutral basis.
The production of second-generation biofuels obtained by waste biomass is actively supported
globally to avoid the direct and side effects that stem from the energetic utilization of energy crops
(OECD/FAO, 2007), and further support effectively waste management policies.
Waste-to-energy plants offer both generation of clean electric power and environmentally safe waste
management and disposal.
Many research efforts document the current and potential role of biomass in the future global energy
supply (Yamamoto et al., 2001; Parikka, 2004; Suresh et al., 2011). Theoretically, the total bio-energy
contribution (combined in descending order of theoretical potential by agricultural, forest, animal
residues and organic wastes) could be as high as 1100 EJ, exceeding the current global energy use of 410
EJ (Hoogwijk et al., 2003). Berndes et al. (2003) further reinforce this potential of biomass in the future
global energy supply by analysing and synthesizing earlier studies on the subject. However, a careful
analysis of all the related literature reveals that there is no consensus regarding the biomass potential
among the researchers, but rather their assessments differ strongly.
One of the most critical bottlenecks in increased biomass utilization for energy production is the cost
of its logistics operations. The rising demand for biomass and the increased complexity of the often
multi-level involved supply systems outline the need for comprehensive waste biomass supply chain
management approaches.
The requirements with respect to biomass supply in terms of quality and quantity can differ
substantially depending on the energy demand trends, the energy production technology, the end-use of
the power generated and, the cost-efficiency and complexity of its logistics operations.
Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT Bhopal on "Bioenergy Engineering"

Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT


Bhopal on Bioenergy Engineering"

BIOMASS SOURCES, CHARACTERISTICS

Waste biomass supply chains (WBSCs) for energy production are comprised in general of
four general system components: (i) biomass harvesting/collection (from single or several
locations) and pre-treatment, (ii) storage (in one or more intermediate locations), (iii)
transport (using a single or multiple echelons) and (iv) energy conversion (Fig. 1).
WBSCs possess several distinctive characteristics that differentiate them from traditional
supply chains. Firstly, agricultural biomass types are usually characterized by seasonal
availability, thus dictating the need of storing large amounts of biomass for lengthy time
periods, which in turn leads to high inventory holding costs during the year-round operation
of a power plant. Moreover, weather related variability and competing uses of waste biomass
in a dynamically changing market have to be considered when determining the flows of the
material supply network.
The complexity of biomass supply chains is even higher for perishable products, as
perishability constrains severely both the acceptable transportation lead times and the length
of storage time. Furthermore, most forms of biomass tend to have a relatively low energy
density per unit of mass compared with fossil fuels. This often makes handling, storage and
transportation more costly per unit of energy carried. In addition, WBSCs need to be robust
and flexible enough to adapt to unpredictable changes in market conditions, as the demand of
the produced energy depends on the type of the conversion facility and/or the price of
competitive fuel substitutes.
Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT Bhopal on "Bioenergy Engineering"

Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT


Bhopal on Bioenergy Engineering"

Fig. 1. Graphical representation of a waste biomass supply chain

Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT Bhopal on "Bioenergy Engineering"

Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT


Bhopal on Bioenergy Engineering"

BIOMASS ENERGY PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGIES


A thorough understanding of the technologies available for biomass energy production is a critical input
to the strategic design of any biomass supply chain network. Conversion of waste biomass and organic
substrates into energy encompasses a wide range of different types and sources of biomass, conversion
options, enduse applications and infrastructure requirements (Karagiannidis et al., 2009). Many of the
processes are suitable for either the direct conversion of biomass or the conversion of intermediate types
of biomass. Factors that influence the choice of a conversion process include the type and quantity of
biomass feedstock and the desired form of the produced energy, i.e. end-use requirements,
environmental standards, economic conditions and other project-specific factors (Hulteberg and
Karlsson, 2009).
Biomass can be converted into useful products or exploitable energy via three main process categories
(Fig. 2): (a) thermochemical, (b) bio-chemical and (c) physicochemical processes.
Thermochemical conversion processes convert biomass into a solid, liquid or gaseous fuel (e.g.
gasification, pyrolysis and charcoal production), (Balat et al., 2009). Bio-chemical conversion is based
on biological processes. The most significant options are: alcohol production from biomass containing
sugar, starch and/or celluloses, and biogas production from crops or organic waste material (e.g. animal
manure). Finally, physicochemical conversion processes provide liquid fuels (e.g. biodiesel) through
physical (e.g. pressing) and chemical (e.g. transesterification) processing of dedicated energy crops. In
this context, Fig 2 presents the alternative biomass feedstock and the energy carrier for the presented
conversion technologies.
It is important to obtain a strategic view about the ramifications and various parameters of all these
technological options on waste biomass supply chains; this would facilitate the identification of optimal
configurations for bio-energy supply systems, networks, and of other meaningful improvement options
(Wonglimpiyarat, 2010).

Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT Bhopal on "Bioenergy Engineering"

Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT


Bhopal on Bioenergy Engineering"

Fig. 2. Overview of renewable energy production from organic substrates (Iakovou et al. 2004; Suresh et al., 2011)
Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT Bhopal on "Bioenergy Engineering"

Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT


Bhopal on Bioenergy Engineering"

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION


Logistics and supply chain management are areas of critical importance
for the successful energetic utilization of waste biomass.
Stakeholders involved in both the design and the execution of such
WBSCs need to address systemically an array of decisions spanning all
levels of the natural hierarchical decision-making process.
For example, generic system components along with the unique
characteristics of waste biomass supply chains (WBSCs) that differentiate
them from traditional supply chains.
The natural hierarchy of the decision-making process for the design and
planning of WBSCs based on industrial practice and needs and existing
research.
Then, we provided a taxonomy of all related research efforts as these are
mapped on the levels of the hierarchy.
Here, identifying gaps in the existing research and thus opportunities for
additional research.
Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT Bhopal on "Bioenergy Engineering"

Dr. S. Suresh lecture note at the MANIT


Bhopal on Bioenergy Engineering"