Episode 191: Is biomass a viable energy source?

Is biomass a viable energy source? On this week’s Energy Bite, Daniel Posen, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University has some answers.

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HOST: Have you ever heard the term “biomass energy” and wondered what it is? On this week’s Energy Bite, Daniel Posen, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University has some answers

DANIEL: When we talk about biomass energy, we are talking about plant or animal products that are used to generate energy. Since the beginning of civilization, for example, we have burned wood to release the energy within it. Today, biomass energy sources include crops like corn, sugarcane and switchgrass, as well as wood residue from lumber, pulp and paper industries, or even garbage, food waste and sewage. There are many different ways to get energy from biomass. Often, we burn it directly or transform it into liquid transportation fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. We can even turn it into a renewable form of natural gas.

HOST: What are the pros and cons of using biomass for energy?

DANIEL: On the positive side, biomass is a renewable resource that easily stores energy, and is available as needed. This gives it an advantage over wind and solar power that rely on current weather conditions. On the other hand, biomass takes a lot of energy to process, and using more of it for energy can lead to deforestation, water quality problems and increased global hunger.

HOST: Do you think biomass should be used as energy? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

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