The term biomass is used to refer to any biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms.
In the energy business, this often means plant material of a wide variety of types (wood, corn, sugar cane, algae and so on) but can also include animal-derived materials such as manure. sewage and fats. So a vast range of possible sources for a wider range of possible applications.
Biomass sources which provide inputs into conversions of various types – to power, gas or fuels – are commonly termed feedstocks (although strictly speaking that term is not exclusive to biomass).
For biomass power (or biopower for short), common sources include:
- wood, often pelletised and sometimes co-fired (burnt) with coal
- agricultural wastes such as straw or rice husk
- wastes from other bioenergy products (e.g. bagasse from sugar cane ethanol processing)
- various biological content within municipal waste streams
- sources used to first generate biogas (which can include sewage, manure, food wastes and various crops), which is then burnt for power generation