Biomass is a source of energy that comes from sunlight.  In order for biomass to work, photosynthesis has to happen.  Photosynthesis happens when the plants chlorophyll catches the energy from the sun and changes the carbon dioxide into other compounds called carbohydrates.  These carbohydrates include compounds such as oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen.

When these compounds are burned, they turn back into carbon dioxide and this is how biomass works to produce energy.  Biomass works by storing solar energy.

How is Biomass Made?

Even from early times, biomass was made by burning it.  When biomass is bruned, it turns into steam, electricity, and heat.  Now, since there has been so many new updates, biomass can be turned into a liquid fuel and it makes it less dangerous to the environment.

In order to turn biomass into a liquid, they use a process called gasification.  Gasification means that the gas is cooked and turned into a gas that is combustible.  Combustible means that it is able to burn.


What are the Types of Biomass

There are many different types of biomass plants that produce energy, but there are mainly two different ways that this is done, the first is by using the remains of plants that are used for other things and by growing plants that are used just for producing energy.

Crops are one way that biomass is made.  There are different crops that give more biomass than other grops and these are called energy crops.  Some of these are trees and some of them are grass.  One important crop that helps make biomass are willow trees.

Corn and sorghum can also be used for biomass and these can be regrown each year so they need more attention than other crops.  When using these crops, they need to be well taken care of with fertilizers and pesticides.

Trees that grow fast can be used to make biomass.  These types of trees can grow quickly and they are strong enough to grow in most climates.

Using soybeans and sunflowers can help to make oil which can last longer.

Why is Using Trees for Biomass Important?

Using trees for biomass is important because the trees often will grow back.  When a tree grows back after being cut down, it is called coppicing.  So when this happens, the tree will grow back and in 20 years or so, the trees can be used again to make biomass products.


There are two different types of biofuels, animal, and plants.  This is a fuel that is used to replace petroleum and this can be used in different types of engines where energy is needed to run them.

Liquid biofuels work better because they are portable and they have more energy.  Since a liquid can be pumped, it is easier to handle and that is why most gasoline for vehicles is liquid.

How Does Biomass Become Energy?

Biomass can turn to energy when it is burned.  The heat that is made from burning biomass can be used to cook, to run factories and to make electricity.


What is the Problem with Burning Biomass?

The problem with burning biomass to create energy is pollution.  When biomass is burned, it can cause there to be pollution, but this can be controlled when the product is not wasted.

Croft Biomass Plant

Facts About Biomass:

  • When biomass is mixed with coal to help run power plants, it is called co-firing.
  • 20 percent of coal can be replaced by using biomass.
  • Coal is a form of biomass that is non-renewable, which means it cannot be replaced once it is used up.
  • Solid biomass is less expensive than liquid biomass.
  • Microalgae is a crop that can help make biomass.
  • When willow trees are planted close to houses, they can cause the foundation of the house to mess up because the roots go so far in the ground.
  • Most of the liquid fuel from biomass comes from corn.

Waste wood

What Did You Learn?

  • What is biomass?  Biomass is energy that comes from the sunlight.
  • How is biomass made?  Biomass is made from sunlight and photsynthesis and it comes from growing crops and trees.
  • What are the two types of biomass?  The two types of biomass are from growing plants and from using what is left over from plants to make energy.
  • Why do some people not like the idea of biomass?  Biomass causes pollution so some people do not like this as an energy source.
  • How does biomass turn to energy?  Biomass has to be burned for it to turn to energy.