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Biomass Vs Biofuels Comparison

Biomass Vs Biofuels

Biomass and biofuel both are natural organic products present on the earth. Both the biofuel and biomass also originated from the same source.

Now the question is, what is the main difference between them. So the main difference is that biomass is typically used to produce biofuels. However, you can find biofuels in different forms, such as liquid fuels, biogases, and solid biomass.

The future of sustainable energy depends on renewable energy sources. They will soon be reduced at current consumption levels.

Biomass is projected to become a growing sustainable energy segment in the future. It is a natural choice, a shared carbon source, and a logical choice of raw materials to produce large-scale fossil fuel substitutes.

What are biofuels?

The biofuels are automotive fuels derived from plant biomass in some way: wheat, corn, sugar cane, etc. The main biofuels are biodiesel, often also used as fuel for heating in diesel boilers. The vegetable oils, bioethanol, biohydrogen, other bio-alcohols (biobutanol, bioethanol, etc.), synthetic hydrocarbons are also used.

How to Get Biofuels?

One of the simplest ways to obtain biofuels is through the fermentation of biomass. But it is not the only way forward. For example, bioethanol, biobutanol, biomethanol or mixed alcohol can be obtained through the biomass pyrolysis process, including agricultural waste and algae. Other and more complex “multi-step” operations are more generically the BTL(biomass to liquid).

It allows biodiesel production or other types of biofuels, indicating the transformation of biological origin materials into liquid fuel.

What is Biomass?

The term ” biomass ” indicates a series of materials of biological origin. These are generally waste from agricultural activities. They can be modified through various procedures to obtain fuels for getting electrical and thermal energy.

Biomass includes all plants and plant materials, including vegetable oils, forestry waste, pulp and paper mill waste, grain. And animal fats.

Potential Sources of Biomass

Forests and agricultural land are the largest potential sources of biomass. Biomass is all non-fossil organic materials that are part of chemical energy.

All energy-containing forms of carbon and all terrestrial and aquatic plants are called biomass. Biomass is cheaper and more widespread. It is less environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. For biomass, wood shells, sawdust, animal dung, food residues, and wastewater are used. The energy produced from biomass is called bioenergy. It is then used for cooking, heating, lighting, and electricity generation.

Biomasses include:

  • firewood
  • branches and residues of agricultural and forestry activities
  • waste from the food industries
  • waste liquids from farms
  • Seaweed

But that’s not all. Plants specifically grown for energy production and municipal organic waste are also included.

How to get energy from it

They are having now clarified the definition of what biomasses are. Let’s see how they can be used to transform them into energy. All these materials can be reused mainly for three purposes.

  • Direct production of biofuels ( biofuels ).
  • The generation of electrical and thermal energy ( biopower )
  • The realization of chemical compounds ( bioproduct ).
  • The transformation procedure naturally depends on the final product.

The fuel organic, such as bioethanol, biodiesel, vegetable oils, and synthetic hydrocarbons, may be obtained by fermentation, pressing, or other chemical processes. Thermal energy can be obtained directly by burning woody biomass in high-efficiency boilers or cogeneration plants. The latter also produces electricity.

The biogas is obtained through a specific process of anaerobic digestion. In turn, the biogas is used for the direct generation of energy or as fuel.

How biomasses are produced

In a nutshell, it is a controlled fermentation process of biomass that produces biogas very rich in methane (up to 70%). From here, we derive electricity put directly into the network or thermal energy. It can be used for heating homes

What is the difference between biofuels and biomass?

Primary data on biofuels and biomass

Biomass is all non-fossil organic materials that are part of chemical energy. All energy-containing forms of carbon and all terrestrial and aquatic plants are called biomass. The term “biomass” means organic matter that comes from plants and animals. It is a source of renewable energy. In turn, biofuels are a source of energy obtained from biological materials using modern biological processes. It also applies to liquid fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which are vegetable oils.

Source for biomass vs. biofuels

Biomass is a renewable energy source for all plants and plant materials, including forestry waste, pulp and paper mill waste, animal manure, urban wood waste, etc. Forests and agricultural land are the two most potential sources of biomass. All waste plant materials, paper waste, trash are biomass sources. 

Biofuels can be some biogas or bioethanol or biodiesel. Ethanol, sugar, and corn were recovered. Biodiesel is made from soy, animal fat, and vegetable oils. You can convert directly into liquid fuel or biofuel. Another biofuel, methanol, is produced from natural gas.

Use of biofuels and biomass

Solid biofuels are mainly used for biomass production, heating, cooking, and large quantities in electrical and thermal and energy systems. Gaseous biofuels use to generate electricity. 

We can use liquid biofuels to replace gasoline and diesel. Most of the energy costs are spent on transportation. Garbage is mainly used to generate electricity. Wood, the first source of energy, is widely used for industrial and domestic purposes.


Q 1: Is biomass better than fossil fuels?

Fossil fuels play a vital role in transforming the world from an agricultural society to the modern world of industry. Typically, fossil fuels are coal, natural gas, and oil that produce electricity. Additionally, Fossil fuels are also widely used in different plastic products. So they are the ideal ones to provide petrochemicals used in this industry. 

However, biomass is better than bio-fuels because it is a renewable source of energy as well as a low-carbon fuel. The approximate chemical formula of biomass is CHO, which is similar to the coal with an oxygen atom added. So it is better than the biofuels because carbon is half burned. 

As it is a low carbon fuel, and it takes the carbon dioxide extracted from the atmosphere and stores in its tissues. When you burn it, it emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So the carbon dioxide level is balanced in the atmosphere when we use biomass. This is because when the biomass is regrown, it absorbs precisely the same amount of carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. So we can say that it is carbon neutral.

Q 2: Does biomass pollute?

The unique type of energy that is also renewable is bioenergy. It is not like wind hydropower or solar energy because bioenergy emits greenhouse gases as well as other pollutants into the air. But as it is a renewable energy source, we can also say that it is a carbon-neutral source of electricity. 

So when biomass is burned for electricity and heat, then it releases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Different agricultural crops and trees carry that carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis. So when these plants and trees absorb much carbon dioxide as the admitted during the biomass combustion process, the carbon cycle remains balanced. 

Burning biomass is not as simple as we think because, in real practice, it is challenging. It depends on how the biomass is harvested and also keeping in view the carbon impact of bioenergy. All this is dependable on combustion technology as well as regrowing efforts. 

Q 3: How is biomass turned biofuel?

Biomass is turned into biofuels through different processes. But there are two of these processes which are commonly used for converting the biomass into biofuels. 

Thermochemical process

In the thermochemical process, you can convert biomass into biofuels through four processes such as: 





Biochemical process

The second process is the biochemical process, which is further divided into two categories. 

Alcoholic fermentation

Methane fermentation


Although renewable energy biomass and biofuels come from the same source, they are natural organic products but differ in their uses. We can use biomass to produce biofuels. It can be converted into all primary energy sources such as electricity, heat, and transport fuels, as well as various chemicals and materials produced by fuels. 

Solid biofuels, mainly biomass, have been used for thousands of years to provide and prepare heat, and are currently used in power generation and heating systems. In turn, biofuels are a source of energy derived from biological materials that separate them from other non-fossil energy sources such as wind and wave energy. Both terms are used interchangeably but differ in context.

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