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what is biomass?

Biomass is the name given to any recent organic matter that has been derived from plants as a result of the photosynthetic conversion process. Biomass energy is derived from plant and animal material, such as wood from forests, residues from agricultural and forestry processes, and industrial, human or animal wastes.

  • Australia is richly endowed with a variety of biomass resources.

The energy value of biomass from plant matter originally comes from solar energy through the process known as photosynthesis. The chemical energy that is stored in plants and animals (that eat plants or other animals), or in the wastes that they produce, is called bioenergy. During conversion processes such as combustion (burning), biomass releases the energy stored in it's carbohydrates.

Biomass can be used directly for electricity generation, steam for industrial uses, heating, cooking or indirectly by converting it into a liquid or gaseous fuel (eg ethanol from sugar crops or biogas from animal waste).

An example of biomass used for renewable energy generation in Australia is the use of sugar cane waste, or bagasse, for electricity production in sugar mills.

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