What is Biomass?

Wood remains the largest biomass source; examples include forest residues (such as dead trees, branches and tree stumps), yard clippings, wood chips and even municipal solid waste.

Other sources of biomass includes plant or animal matter that can be converted into fibers or other chemicals, including biofuels and biochar.

Industrial biomass is often grown from numerous types of plants, including miscanthus, switchgrass, hemp, corn, poplar, willow, sorghum, sugarcane, bamboo, and a variety of tree species, ranging from eucalyptus to oil palm (palm oil).

There is research involving algae or algae-derived biomass, as this non-food resource can be produced at rates five to ten times those of other types of land-based agriculture, such as corn and soy.

  • Virgin biomass includes all naturally occurring terrestrial plants such as trees, bushes and grass.
  • Waste biomass is produced as a low value byproduct of various industrial sectors such as agriculture (corn stover, sugarcane bagasse, straw etc.) and forestry (saw mill and paper mill discards).

Ephemeral Biomass

Ephemeral biomass is plant matter that decays quickly (such as leaves, grasses, ...) and returns CO2 to the air much quicker.

The burning and natural decomposition of biomass including agricultural waste adds large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere.

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