Home » 6 Important Types of Biomass
Biomass Types of Biomass

6 Important Types of Biomass

Types of biomass are actually categorizing into two main categories, which are woody fuel and animal waste.

The main four types of biomass are agricultural waste, municipal waste, industrial waste, forestry residue, and wood. Biomass energy fuels are low densities as compare to the same volume of fossil fuels.

This means a higher volume of biomass is required to generate the same amount of energy as a lower volume of fossil fuels.

Biomass is actually the chemical energy stored in plants and animals. It is a renewable source of energy, which means it never depleted and can be productive again and again.

The primary source of biomass energy is the sun. Which plant uses in the process of photosynthesis.

here is also detailed article on major fossil fuel pros and cons

Two essential methods are uses to evaluate biomass fuels.

  • One of them is fuel supply, which means total quantities that are available, the stability of supply or it depends on the industry generating biofuel and markets for the fuel.
  • The second evaluation method is the cost of biomass fuel collection, processing, and transportation. And who pays all these costs. Types of biomass are:

1.Agricultural waste

Agricultural waste includes both plant base residue and biological residue and energy crops. Agricultural waste contains all the crops residue like bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, husk, shell, peel, leaves, pulp, stubble, etc.

each year large amount of agricultural waste is produced and most of it is never utilized. Straw and rice husk produces from the rice plant is easily converted into energy.

A large amount of biomass is left on fields during maize production, which is an excellent source of energy.

Harvesting residue results from sugar cane harvesting, and in processing processes, it produces fibrous grass, the large amount of energy can be produced from both of them.

Shell and fiber products as a result of coconut production and processing also produce a large amount of energy.

types of biomass

Due to the low awareness among people, most of this residue is plough back into the soil or is burnt or left to decompose. These biomass fuel sources can be used to produce electricity.

They are burnt to produce heat, and this heat is in turn use to run turbines that produce electricity.  

Agricultural form of biomass produces liquid fuels o they use thermochemically processing methods to produce electricity and heat.

Agricultural wastes are seasonal wastes, and their characteristics are different from solid wastes like charcoal, char briquette. The only difference is in the content of volatile matter, lower density, and burning time.


Wood is an essential type of biomass energy source.  To produce energy, wood includes sawdust, logs, wood chips, wood pellets, and tree barks.

Different industries produce different types of wood waste which depends on the type of raw material used and finished products.

Flooring, particleboard, molding, jointing craft industries are the primary wood processing industries.Combustion is the primary process to obtain energy from wood. The process starts with the burning of the wood.

The heat produces through combustion is then used to convert water into steam by boiling water in the tank. This steam then runs turbines to produce electricity.

types of biomass

The other processes are cogeneration known as combined heat power (CHP). It produces heat and electricity at the same time

. But this process requires a high amount of investment and initiation energy due to which it is not a feasible method.

The last energy conversion method is wood gasification. It is an anaerobic method which involves heating wood to high temperature at low oxygen.

It produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide which mixes with oxygen to heat turbines.

3.Forestry Waste

Forest waste does not include the waste from logging sites in commercial forests as well as material produces as a result of forest management operations.

Logging waste, imperfect commercial trees, deadwood, and other non-commercial trees are all examples of forestry residue.

Methods include the production of forest waste are thinning of plantations, clearing for logging roads, extracting pulp and timber.

Harvest removes the 20 to 25 percent of volume while remaining is available as biomass to produce energy. Forest waste have low density and fuel values, which results in high transport cost.

All of this made it very uneconomical. So it is economical to reduce biomass density in the forest itself.

types of biomass

Recently forest waste is gaining popularity, and several studies are done on them to obtain energy from them. Forest waste is a type of biomass energy which is disposed of by on-site stacking and burning.

Forest waste is converted into energy by burning and heating. It uses conversion methods like combustion and gasification. These methods burn forest residue and produce both heat and electricity.

4.Animal Waste

Animal waste is an example of biomass fuel. Animal waste is a primary source of biomass energy. These are organic sources to obtain energy.

Animal waste includes manures, renderings, and other wastes from livestock finishing operations.

The main advantage of using animal waste as a source of energy is the mitigation of the disposal issue of waste. Farmlands are uses to dispose of animal waste.

Different problems like surface and groundwater contamination, nutrient management, and odor control arise due to the dispose of animal waste. But the presence of new biomass technologies helps to mitigate all those issues.

The most common form of industry suitable for biomass to energy is the dairy industry. This is due to a large amount of milking cow manure and because dairy operations have an automated manure collection process.

Technologies for the conversion of energy from animal waste are combustion, anaerobic digestion, and composting.

The type of technology suitable depends on the content of moisture in manure and the number of contaminants like bedding. These conversion methods convert animal waste energy into biogas.

Major uses of animal waste energy is to generate electricity from a small gas turbine, for cooking, for heating, and in internal combustion engines.

5.Industrial Residue

All around the world food industry produces a large amount of food residue and by-products that are useful in producing biomass energy.

All sectors of the food energy produce the industrial form of biomass waste. The industrial waste is both in solid and liquid form.

Solid waste includes peelings and leftover fruits and vegetables, food that is unable to meet quality standards, filer sludge and fiber from sugar extractions

whereas liquid waste includes washing of food like meat, vegetable and fruits, precooking meat, poultry and fish and water used for cleaning purposes.  

types of biomass

The most polluting industry is the pulp and paper industry. Solid wastes are dump in landfills where bacteria and fungi cause the food to rot and decay.

So the conversion method industrial waste uses is anaerobic digestion. As a result of anaerobic digestion in the absence of oxygen methane and carbon monoxide gas is produced.

The primary use of methane gas is in households where it is used for cooking purposes, for heating. The other conversion method is fermentation.

Fermentation of industrial waste results in the production of bioethanol. Which is uses as a fuel or as an additive to the fuels.

6.Sewage and Municipal solid Residue

Sewage and municipal solid residue form another different type of biomass fuel. Million tons of waste is produced each year as a household waste, which is mostly disposed of in the open fields.

Putrescible, papers, and plastics form 80 percent of municipal waste.

Municipal waste is converted into energy by the process of direct combustion and anaerobic digestion in the landfills. This process produces biogas from municipal waste.

Biogas is actually methane gas along with carbon dioxide. Its main uses are to produce electricity or for cooking and lighting.

types of biomass

Sewage is a similar source, just like an animal waste to produce energy. It uses an anaerobic conversion method to produce biogas. The remaining sewage then undergoes a further process known as pyrolysis to produce more biogas.

Till now, we discuss different types of biomass energy sources in detail. We completely understand all the forms of biomass. We know what they are and how they produce energy. But a question arises here that

What are the four types of biomass that can be converted into energy?

The four major types of biomass fuel are:

  • Agricultural residue
  • Wood Sewage
  • Municipal Waste
  • and the last one is an industrial waste.

Different methods are used for the conversion of biomass into energy. The easiest method to obtain energy from biomass is combustion. In this method, wood or agricultural residue is heated or burned to produce energy.

This energy is then used to run turbines, which generates electricity. They mostly produce heat and electricity at the same time.

The second method is anaerobic combustion. It is done in the absence of oxygen. Where bacteria and fungi convert the biomass into energy.

Usually, the anaerobic method is applicable to sewage and municipal waste and agricultural waste like food residue, which is dump in landfills and open areas.

Biogas produces as a result of anaerobic combustion. The main uses of biogas are in households and industries.

About the author

Study Biofuels

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Free PDF Guides