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jamzzy's avatar

Who wants to help me on my late chemistry homework?

Asked by jamzzy (885points) June 9th, 2010

I could really use some help finding some sources to use for this project, it is due tomorrow and would love if you could just point me in the right direction or maybe even give me an answer.

The questions im missing are:
What is the reliabilty of a biomass plant?
What is the projected long term use and feasibility of a biomass plant. What are the limitations?

Where in the world is biomass energy really used and how many plants are there (roughly)

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7 Answers

The_Idler's avatar

depends on quality of harvest

ridiculously stupid and unsustainable due to necessitating appropriation of croplands or destruction of rainforest.

limitations are how much space do we have to grow shit on? not enough already!

Brazil, for one. how many plants? you joker.

jamzzy's avatar

@The_Idler i basically plugged my topic (biomass) in for all the questions there were 10 other topics some smaller. haha

ragingloli's avatar

Reliability depends on how good the harvest is. Have a drought, a vicious bug or disease decimate your harvest and you are without energy. Fickle like the wind.

I do not see any potential long term use, except as a supplement to other energy sources, by burning biomass garbage.
The reasons why I do not see any long term use on a medium to large scale are:
– Human population is growing by the minute, which means we need more:
———- Habitable space
———- Fertile land for food production
– Global Warming caused by massive CO2 excretion. The more space we acquire for crops, the more forests we have to destroy, the less CO2 can be reconverted into oxygen, the stronger the greenhouse effect becomes. Not good.

Both are at odds with biomass powerplants which would use all the fertile space just to produce fuel for the powerplants.

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lilikoi's avatar

What is the reliability of a biomass plant?

Reliability depends on redundancy of power plant design and reliability of source materials to burn.

What is the projected long term use and feasibility of a biomass plant. What are the limitations?

Realistically, biomass has great long term feasibility as people will continue to produce large quantities of waste that need to go somewhere. I wouldn’t call it “green” since we shouldn’t be producing so much trash in the first place.

I’m guessing that Brazil burns bagasse (waste by product of sugar and ethanol production) to produce electricity. The sugar plantations in Hawaii used to do this to help run their cane processing machines.

Another good opportunity for small scale biomass power production is harvesting invasive tree species. In Hawaii, some people are working on biomass projects involved the highly invasive albizia tree; it grows very fast and thus out-shades other species and has taken over quite a bit of forested area all over Hawaii.

I disagree with the previous sentiment that land is too scarce to grow crops for energy. Certainly if we continue to build out fertile land, we will not have enough of it to sustain our food, let alone energy, requirements. We need food and energy, and these needs must be balanced against population growth. One of the biggest reasons fertile land is built out is because larger profits can be made from development than farming. In Hawaii and other places all over the world, developers are at constant odds with farmers. If a farmer can eke out a successful living growing tree crops for biomass production, then so be it. It is better in the long-term that we are able to maintain that land for agricultural production – even though it is for biomass, which may not currently be the most elegant solution to our energy demands – than lose it to development. Once land is built on, it will logically NEVER be reverted to farmland. It would be much easier to convert the farm from energy to food crop in the future than to convert the land use from urban to agricultural. Food production in Hawaii and the U.S. in general will probably continue to be less and less economical due to low labor costs abroad. As food crop production continues to wane in this country, agricultural land will be up for grabs. Better to be planting crops for energy than planting buildings. How do you think we ended up in this predicament of land scarcity to begin with? We keep allowing our fertile lands to be developed into urban sprawl.

I suppose fertile space can be either directly or indirectly required to feed a biomass power plant. Garbage / trash both are used to feed power plants and they are called ‘waste to energy’ facilities. The biodegradable portion of municipal waste can be used to fuel biomass plants.

Here’s more info, and if you search the internet a tiny bit you will find tons more.

Where in the world is biomass energy really used and how many plants are there (roughly)

No idea how many plants there are. Biomass is used in many places in the world. It is used in Hawaii. Google HPower. That’s the name of our waste-to-energy facility. They take residential solid waste (the trash collected from everyone’s homes) and burn it to make energy. They employ very stringent air filter standards to help prevent harmful gases that result from burning from leaching out into the air.

ragingloli's avatar

How will you convert fertile land used for biomass production back to food production when you depend on the biomass to sustain the deman for energy? Even if we completely cease building stuff on fertile land, less and less demand will be able to be covered by the farmland.
You have farmland divided between food and biomass. The yield for both has a cap, even with heavy usage of genetic modification of the plants. Yet the demand for both will grow. The demand for food will grow because human population will keep skyrocketing.
The demand for energy and thus biomass will grow for the same reason. Add to that the fact that the demand for biomass would make a truly massive jump upwards when fossil fuels run out. You end up with a situation where lack food and lack energy and you can not upgrade either capacity without harming the other. Convert food land to biomass land and you will cause a famine. Convert biomass land to food land and you will have a massive energy shortage.
The other thing is, yes you can open up new farm land, but that means destroying more and more forests, which we badly need to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. Doing that will only accelerate climate change and destroy entire biotopes.
One more thing. Biomass as energy source is based on the same primitive principle we used for thousands of years. We burn things. And it is awfully inefficient. You will get an efficiency of 30% tops.
I would rather have more money spent on developing nuclear fusion. The efficient production massive amounts of clean energy on a tiny space compared to burning plants. That would free up the space needed for food, too.
I personally think that relying on biomass as energy source beyond a supplemental use by burning waste biomass is a really stupid idea.

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