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NFCRC Tutorial: Biomass and Wastes

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photo of garbage dump

One of the energy resources available to us is the organic waste material generated by humans and animals and includes paper, plastics, wood, animal dung, plant stalks and fibers, and food residues. These residues in many instances pose a disposal problem and also have a significant heating value. Biomass may be combusted in specially designed boilers, or gasified to generate a gas that could be utilized to generate power in internal combustion engines or fuel cells. Combustion or gasification of waste streams that contain chlorine compounds could, however, produce highly toxic pollutants such as dioxins and furans and proper design measures should be taken to limit these emissions.

Biomass derived energy accounted for 3.02 quadrillion Btu (or 3.19x109 Giga Joules) or 3.2% of the total energy consumption in the U.S. in 19961.

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Reference 1. ftp://ftp.eia.doe.gov/pub/energy.overview/aer/aer1-1.txt.