Generating Greener Energy with Biomass Plants

Generating biogas through anaerobic decomposition

What is a biomass plant?

Biomass is increasingly being considered as one of the solutions to providing the UK with sustainable energy. But what are biomass plants and how do they work?

Biomass is a renewable energy source which is typically generated by burning wood, plants or other organic matter. This can include manure and even household waste. Whilst it does generate carbon dioxide in the process, the volume produced is significantly less than traditional fossil fuels such as coal. As biomass ‘fuel’ is organic it can be considered renewable on the proviso it is being replaced. For example, burning wood in a biomass plant would require new trees to be planted to offset those used in the process. Alternatively, using anaerobic digestion as a substitute for combustion is even greener!

How do biomass plants work?

There are three types of biomass plants, each generating energy in a slightly different way.

Direct combustion of the biomass is commonplace. The process of burning the biomass produces high pressure steam which in turn is used to power a series of turbine blades thus generating electricity.

Alternatively, organic waste is stored in digester tanks which are oxygen free. Anaerobic bacteria then go to work in decomposing the material – a process which creates methane. The methane can then be purified and used to generate electricity. This can be referred to as a biogas solution or anaerobic decomposition.

Finally, heating at a lower temperature, without oxygen results in a bio-oil which can be used as a diesel substitute.

Biomass – is it the future?

In the UK, at peak production, biomass produces around 4% of our energy needs compared to other green solutions such as wind (12%) and solar (11%). However, the Renewable Energy Association’s June 2019 report suggests that bioenergy could triple from the levels we see today to 16% by 2032. And all of that is good for the environment …

Biomass plants are greener than traditional energy generation solutions. Whilst combustion can be used as one of the methods of generating the energy, this typically produces less emissions. Whilst biogas plants emit zero greenhouse gasses as part of the process. Biogas plants also generate organic fertiliser as a bi-product.

Insulating Biomass Plants

Like all major plant, it is imperative that biomass plants are appropriately insulated. Typically, this is the boiler and associated equipment, piping and ductwork. Trace heating is also important to protect pipework from low temperatures.

At OJM Insulations, we are excited to be working with BioConstruct to insulate a series of anaerobic digestion or ‘biogas’ plants being constructed across the UK. The first plant at Attleborough is now live and we are working on the next project at Evercreech in Dorset.

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14 Cutlers Rd

South Woodham Ferrers

Chelmsford CM3 5XJ

OJM Insulations Office

14 Cutlers Rd, South Woodham Ferrers, Chelmsford CM3 5XJ

01245 425511