Biomass is biological material derived from living or recently living organisms and includes tree and food crop residues, animal effluent and offal. Bioenergy is a form of renewable energy derived from biomass to generate electricity and heat or to produce liquid fuels for transport.
As an example of the value of the resources available, 1 tonne of cereal straw can be converted into about 300 litres of ethanol biofuel or up to 3300 kilowatt hours of heat energy.
Producers can add to their income and/or reduce running costs by using low value agricultural wastes to produce biofuels. Biofuels can be used to produce heat and electricity within the business, thereby reducing costs, or selling these products or their wastes to other bioenergy producers.
Some of the processes used to create biofuel also produce secondary products, such as fertilisers and biochar, that can be used directly or sold.
Technologies for using biomass
DAFWA has released a scoping study (Biomass scoping study: opportunities for agriculture in Western Australia - Bulletin 4862) outlining the 3 main technologies used around the world to produce high value products from low value waste resulting from existing production systems.
These technologies are:
- combustion, gasification and pyrolysis
- second generation ethanol production
- anaerobic digestion.
The bulletin outlines a selected range of projects around Australia and the world that are developing new industries based on biomass waste we produce. It also provides information on feedstock availability, potential customers for the energy produced and barriers to uptake.