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Methods of Power Production from Biomass

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Biomass based power production methods

There are multiple ways to produce power from biomass. While the most obvious way is to use it to produce steam that runs a turbine, this may not be the most efficient or the most feasible. In fact, most biomass power plants in India (as well as in many other parts of the world) are following the rankine cycle route for biomass based power production. But other well-known technologies – especially gasification – are also being increasingly used. Emerging processes such as pyrolysis could also start contributing in future.

Primary Routes for Power from Biomass

The three primary routes for biomass to power are: Combustion, Gasification and Anaerobic Digestion.

Combustion is easy to understand – instead of coal or other fossil fuels, biomass is used to produce steam that runs a turbine. Combustion of biomass for power could either be in the form of co-firing (when it is burned along with coal) or pure play biomass based combustion.

In the case of gasification, the biomass is first gasified and this gas in turn produces power in a gas engine.

Anaerobic digestion is usually applied to biomass that typically has a high amount of water in them (anaerobic digestion is commonly used for treating organic waste such as kitchen waste and sewage waste into energy). Under this route, microorganisms act upon the organic matter present in the biomass under anaerobic (absence of air) conditions and convert it into biogas.

An emerging route for biomass based power is pyrolysis. In this, the biomass is rapidly heated to 450 - 600°C in the absence of air, and results in a bio-oil called the pyrolysis oil, which in turn could be used for firing the boilers. Typically, 50 - 75 % (by weight) of the feedstock is converted into pyrolysis oil.

 

 

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