What is "biomass"?

"Biomass" - what is it?

The following overview shows various sources, material flows and energy sources of biomass that are currently used to generate bioenergy and biomaterials.

Overview graphic animal husbandry organic waste bioenergy

Applications for biomass and renewable raw materials

The possible uses for biomass are diverse and are constantly being developed. In order to use the biomass as effectively as possible and to use its potential not only for the production of energy, there is a cascade of benefits for renewable raw materials. This is not legally binding, but it does provide good guidelines for the sustainable use of biomass.

Cascade use biomass
Following this cascade, modern biomass use is mainly about the development of the second and third use stages - i.e. material and energy use. The following graphics give a brief overview of the broad spectrum and break it down into the material use and energetic use (bioenergy) of biomass.

material use biomass diagram

energy use biomass diagram

Change in agriculture - from farmer to energy farmer

A few years ago there was a situation of constant overproduction, at least in European agriculture. Many agricultural products ("biomass") could be produced in such large quantities due to high subsidies that the market could no longer buy them. This high level of production led, among other things, to sad pictures such as the "Butter Mountains" and "Milk Lakes", but also to a secure supply for EU citizens.

A rethinking of customers and a change in agriculture have at this point led to a significant decrease in this conflict. Innovative products lead to new industries and markets that stimulate the agricultural situation.

The new or rediscovered uses and potentials of biomass range from products in the cosmetics and textile industries to packaging and medical fields of application to constructional and energetic uses (biogas, Biofuels). Farmers become energy farmers and contribute to the decentralized energy supply of their community.

Cascade of biomass use - food comes first!

Nevertheless, in the eagerness of the growing markets, it should not be forgotten that food security and the production of Energy crops, or the alternative material use of biomass is subordinated. The energy and resource turnaround also means a profound change for global agriculture and forestry - with different opportunities and risks.

Current articles on the material and energetic use of biomass can be found in the Biomass blog.

2 comments on “What is“ biomass ”?”

  1. Very very helpful for my biology presentation, which I had to give about the giant Chinese plant. I found a lot of interesting articles on this website. The graphics are great, so I decorated my lecture with them;)
    Thank you!

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