March 06, 2023 | Energy & Utilities
Depleting fossil fuel reserves amid rising energy demand has increased the interest in biofuels. Switching to fuels made from waste residue also support the greenhouse gas and feedstock policy objectives in many countries. The biomass industry has expanded because many countries have increased the use of renewable energy sources in their power supply mix.
Rapid growth of Asian markets, new waste management policies and climate mitigation strategies in Europe are furthering boost this market.
The global biomass and waste-to-energy market estimated at $30.5 billion in 2022 is projected to reach $38 billion by 2026.
The waste material discarded worldwide holds the potential to meet around 10% of global electricity need annually.
In 2021, nearly 5% or 4,835 trillion British thermal units (TBtu) of the U.S’ primary energy consumption came from biomass.
Of this 4,835 TBtu, 2,316 TBtu came from biofuels, 2,087 TBtu from wood and biomass derived from wood and 431 TBtu from biomass found in municipal solid waste and sewage, animal manure, and agricultural leftovers.
This rise in demand for biofuel is adding pressure on the ways to produce.
Biomass is converted into energy through:
Thermochemical conversion or processing is the use of heat to promote chemical transformations of biomass into energy and chemical products.
The field of thermochemical processing is gaining traction because of a jump in biomass availability and the high conversion capability of biomass and waste to fuel.
Thermochemical processing happens through combustion (high temperature exothermic oxidation in oxygen-rich ambiance to hot flue gas), slow pyrolysis (depends on the rate of heating and the biomass residence time), torrefaction, flash pyrolysis and gasification.
Syngas from the gasification of biomass is converted into a fuel called bio-SNG, which has the potential to be used for heating or transportation.
Several research and development initiatives on biomass gasification are in progress in various E.U. countries with the specific goals of improving the generation and distribution of renewable energy.
Currently, Austria, Sweden and Netherlands are actively working on such projects.
Rising fuel prices amid disrupted supply and fragile macroeconomic situation have increased the need for fuel alternatives. With the feedstock being renewable and the end-product as efficient as any fossil fuel makes thermochemical processing a favorable option.
Author: Kartik Tiwari