Biomass Energy

  • R. P. Overend


Biomass Energy or Bioenergy is a very loose term used to describe energy obtained from plants (i.e., the phytomass). The plant has the unique facility of taking in solar energy, water and carbon dioxide and storing this energy as a complex of reduced carbon compounds which can then be used as fuels. In describing the potential of the phytomass to provide bioenergy it is convenient to separate the topic into two components; (1) the growth and production of biomass and (2) the conversion of that biomass into end-use energy or into fuel forms that are compatible with the existing petroleum infrastructure. In a systems sense these two divisions are wholly artificial since the production of phytomass, the activities we know as agriculture and silvi-culture, involve inputs of capital, labour, energy and energy intensive fertilizers to be productive. Accordingly, the structure of this paper is as follows:
  1. I

    The Plant/Photosynthesis/Potential

  2. II

    A Net Energy Balance Perspective

  3. III

    Bioenergy Conversion Technologies

  4. IV

    Economic Evaluation of Bioenergy Systems



Chemical Oxygen Demand Sugar Cane Anaerobic Digester Corn Stover Capital Cost 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bassham, J.A., 1979, Feed and food from desert environments, in; “The Biosaline Concept,” A. Hollaender, ed., Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Brooks, R.E. et al., 1979, Bioconversion of plant biomass to ethanol, “Proc. 3rd Ann. Conf. Biomass Energy Systems,” Springfield, VA, SERI/TP-33–285, pp. 275–280.Google Scholar
  3. Buringh, P., 1980, Limits to the productive capacity of the biosphere, in “Future Sources of Organic Raw Materials CHEMRAWN I,” L.E. St-Pierre and G.R. Brown, eds., Pergamon Press, New York, pp. 325–332.Google Scholar
  4. Carlisle, A. and Methven, I.R., 1979, Personal Communication.Google Scholar
  5. Converse, A.O., and Grethlein, H.E., 1979, Acid hydrolysis of cellulosic biomass, “Proc. 3rd Ann. Conf. Biomass Energy Systems,” Springfield VA., SERI/TP-33–285, pp. 91–95.Google Scholar
  6. Cysewski, G.R., and Wilke, C.R., 1977, Rapid ethanol fermentations using vacuum and cell recycle, Biotechnol. Bioeng., 19: 1125–1143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cysewski, G.R., and Wilke, C.R., 1978, Process design and economic studies of alternative fermentation methods for the production of ethanol, Biotechnol. Bioeng., 20: 1420–1444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. DeLong, E.A., 1980, Canadian Patent No. 1,096,374.Google Scholar
  9. Fluck, R.C., and Baird, C.D., 1980, “Agricultural Energetics,” AVI Publishing Company Inc., Westport, CT, pp. 90–93.Google Scholar
  10. Hafele, W., 1981, “Energy in a Finite World: A Global Systems Analysis,” Ballinger, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  11. Hill, G.R., 1978, Critical paths to coal utilization, Int. J. Energy Res., 1: 341–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. IRDC, 1978, Low-cost technology options for sanitation: a state of the art review and annotated bibliography, IDRC-102e, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa.Google Scholar
  13. Jennings, P.R., 1976, The amplification of agricultural production, Sci. Am. 235(3): 180–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jones, G., 1979, “Vegetation Productivity,” Longman, London and New York.Google Scholar
  15. Kimmins, J.P., et al., 1981, FORCYTE-10, in “Proc. Third Bioenergy R&D Seminar,” March 1981, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, NRCC 19515.Google Scholar
  16. Ladisch, M.R., 1979, Fermentable sugars from cellulosic residues, Process Biochem. 14: 21–25.Google Scholar
  17. Ladisch, M.R., Ladisch, C.M., and Tsao, G.T., 1978, Cellulose to sugars: new process gives quantitative yield, Science, 201: 743–745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Loomis, R.S., and Gerakis, P.A., 1975, in “Photosynthesis and Productivity in Different Environments,” J.P. Cooper, ed., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 145–172.Google Scholar
  19. Mandels, M., and Andreotti, R.E., 1978. Problems and challenges in the cellulose to ethanol fermentation, Process Biochem. 13: 6–13.Google Scholar
  20. NAS, 1980, “Firewood Crops,” National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  21. Overend, R.P., 1982, The average haul distance and transportation work factors for biomass delivered to a central plant, Biomass.2; Applied Science Publishers, England, pp. 75–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Overend, R.P., and Silversides, R.C., 1980, Energy from forest biomass — A Canadian perspective, “IUFRO Div. V Conference,” Oxford, NRCC 18064.Google Scholar
  23. Perry, R.H., and Chilton, C.H., 1963, “Chemical Engineers Handbook,” 5th Edition, McGraw Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Pimental, D., ed., 1980, “Handbook of Energy Utilization in Agriculture,” CRC Press Inc., Boca Raton, FL.Google Scholar
  25. Raitenan, W.E., 1978, Energy fibre and food: agriforestry in Eastern Ontario, “VIII World Forest Congress,” Jakarta, Paper FFF/7–16.Google Scholar
  26. Rodin, L.E., et al., 1976, Productivity of world ecosystems, in “Proceedings, Symposium on Productivity of the Worlds Ecosystems,” National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  27. Scope, 1979, The biogeochemical carbon cycle, “Report 13 of Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment,” John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  28. Sassin, W., 1980, Urbanisation and the global energy problem, in “Factors Influencing Urban Design — a Systems Approach,” P. Laconte, ed., Sijthoff-Noordhof, Alphen, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  29. Shafizadeh, F., 1968, Pyrolysis and combustion of cellulosic materials, in “Advances in Carbohydrate Chemistry,” M.L. Wolfram, and R.S. Tipson, eds, Academic Press. New York, Vol. 23, pp. 419–465.Google Scholar
  30. Spears, J., 1978, Wood as an Energy Source — the Situation in the Developing World, 103rd Annual Meeting of the American Forestry Association.Google Scholar
  31. Staniforth, A.R., 1979, “Cereal Straw,” Clarendon Press, Oxford, p. 39.Google Scholar
  32. TRW Energy Systems Planning Division, 1980, “Energy Balances in the Production and End-Use of Alcohol Derived from Biomass,” U.S. National Alcohol Fuels Commission, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  33. Tilby, S.E., 1971, U.S. Patents 3,567,510 and 3,567,511.Google Scholar
  34. Weetman, G.F., and Webber, B., 1972, The influence of wood harvesting on the nutrient status of two spruce stands, Can. J. Forest. Res. 2: 351–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Weisz, P.B., and Marshall, J.F. 1979, High-grade fuels from biomass farming: potentials and constraints, Science, 206: 24–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wenzl, H.F.J., 1970, “The Chemical Technology of Wood,” Academic Press, New York, pp. 202–213.Google Scholar
  37. Wright, T.W., and Will, G.M., 1958, The nutrient content of Scots and Corsican Pines growing on sand dunes, Forestry, 31: 13–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. van den Berg, L., 1981, “Methane from Wastes,” National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, Canada, NRCC 18541.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. P. Overend
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Energy Research and DevelopmentNational Research Council of CanadaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations