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Bio Energy Technologies

Advances in Bioenergy is a new series that provides both principles and recent developments
in various kinds of bioenergy technologies, including feedstock development, conversion
technologies, energy and economics, and environmental analysis.

Bioenergy Applications. Bioenergy is conversion of biomass resources such as agricultural
and forest residues, organic municipal waste and energy crops to useful energy carriers
including heat, electricity and transport fuels.

 Bioenergy for Agricultural Production

 Photo bioreactors
 Energy in biomass
 Microbial Electrochemical Cells

“Bioenergy” is use of any organic material, such as forest things, residues, agricultural waste or
urban wood waste, to generate heating, cooling and/or electricity. Many independent power
producers across the United States and Canada produce electricity for the grid
using bioenergy.

Everyday Life Use

Garbage is used in many towns to produce electricity in waste-to-energy plants. ...
Conversion: Energy is produced by converting biomass (like cow manure) into gas (like
methane) and liquid fuels. By adding heat or chemicals to the biomass, a fuel is produced that
can be burned to produce electricity.
Construction Method
Direct combustion is the best established and most commonly used technology for converting
wastes to heat. During combustion, biomass is burnt in excess air to produce heat. ... Co-firing
has the major advantage of avoiding the construction of new, dedicated, waste-to-energy
power plant.

Thermal Technologies

The three principal methods of thermo-chemical conversion corresponding to each of these

energy carriers are combustion in excess air, gasification in reduced air, and pyrolysis in
the absence of air. Direct combustion is the best established and most commonly used
technology for converting wastes to heat. During combustion, biomass is burnt in excess air
to produce heat. The first stage of combustion involves the evolution of combustible
vapours from wastes, which burn as flames. Steam is expanded through a conventional
turbo-alternator to produce electricity. The residual material, in the form of charcoal, is
burnt in a forced air supply to give more heat.

Co-firing or co-combustion of biomass wastes with coal and other fossil fuels can provide
a short-term, low-risk, low-cost option for producing renewable energy while
simultaneously reducing the use of fossil fuels. Co-firing involves utilizing existing power
generating plants that are fired with fossil fuel (generally coal), and displacing a small
proportion of the fossil fuel with renewable biomass fuels. Co-firing has the major
advantage of avoiding the construction of new, dedicated, waste-to-energy power plant.
An existing power station is modified to accept the waste resource and utilize it to produce
a minor proportion of its electricity.

Gasification systems operate by heating biomass wastes in an environment where the solid
waste breaks down to form a flammable gas. The gasification of biomass takes place in a
restricted supply of air or oxygen at temperatures up to 1200–1300°C. The gas produced—
synthesis gas, or syngas—can be cleaned, filtered, and then burned in a gas turbine in simple
or combined-cycle mode, comparable to LFG or biogas produced from an anaerobic
digester. The final fuel gas consists principally of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane
with small amounts of higher hydrocarbons. This fuel gas may be burnt to generate heat;
alternatively it may be processed and then used as fuel for gas-fired engines or gas turbines
to drive generators. In smaller systems, the syngas can be fired in reciprocating engines,
micro-turbines, Stirling engines, or fuel cells.

Pyrolysis is thermal decomposition occurring in the absence of oxygen. During the pyrolysis
process, biomass waste is heated either in the absence of air (i.e. indirectly), or by the
partial combustion of some of the waste in a restricted air or oxygen supply. This results in
the thermal decomposition of the waste to form a combination of a solid char, gas, and
liquid bio-oil, which can be used as a liquid fuel or upgraded and further processed to value-
added products.
Biochemical Technologies

Biochemical processes, like anaerobic digestion, can also produce clean energy in the form
of biogas which can be converted to power and heat using a gas engine. Anaerobic digestion
is a series of chemical reactions during which organic material is decomposed through the
metabolic pathways of naturally occurring microorganisms in an oxygen depleted
environment. In addition, wastes can also yield liquid fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol and
biodiesel, which can be used to replace petroleum-based fuels.

Anaerobic digestion is the natural biological process which stabilizes organic waste in the
absence of air and transforms it into biogas and biofertilizer. Almost any organic material
can be processed with anaerobic digestion. This includes biodegradable waste materials
such as municipal solid waste, animal manure, poultry litter, food wastes, sewage and
industrial wastes. An anaerobic digestion plant produces two outputs, biogas and digestate,
both can be further processed or utilized to produce secondary outputs. Biogas can be used
for producing electricity and heat, as a natural gas substitute and also a transportation
fuel. Digestate can be further processed to produce liquor and a fibrous material. The fiber,
which can be processed into compost, is a bulky material with low levels of nutrients and
can be used as a soil conditioner or a low level fertilizer.

A variety of fuels can be produced from biomass wastes including liquid fuels, such as
ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, and gaseous fuels, such as hydrogen
and methane. The resource base for biofuel production is composed of a wide variety of
forestry and agricultural resources, industrial processing residues, and municipal solid and
urban wood residues. The largest potential feedstock for ethanol is lignocellulosic biomass
wastes, which includes materials such as agricultural residues (corn stover, crop straws and
bagasse), herbaceous crops (alfalfa, switchgrass), short rotation woody crops, forestry
residues, waste paper and other wastes (municipal and industrial). The three major steps
involved in cellulosic ethanol production are pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, and
fermentation. Biomass is pretreated to improve the accessibility of enzymes. After
pretreatment, biomass undergoes enzymatic hydrolysis for conversion of polysaccharides
into monomer sugars, such as glucose and xylose. Subsequently, sugars are fermented to
ethanol by the use of different microorganisms. Bioethanol production from these
feedstocks could be an attractive alternative for disposal of these residues.
Importantly, lignocellulosic feedstocks do not interfere with food security.

1) Biomass used as a fuel reduces need for fossil fuels for the production of heat,
steam, and electricity for residential, industrial and agricultural use.

2) Biomass is always available and can be produced as a renewable resource.

3) Biomass fuel from agriculture wastes maybe a secondary product that adds value to
agricultural crop.

4) Growing Biomass crops produce oxygen and use up carbon dioxide


1) Agricultural wastes will not be available if the basic crop is no longer grown.

2) Additional work is needed in areas such as harvesting methods.

3) Land used for energy crops maybe in demand for other purposes, such as faming,
conservation, housing, resort or agricultural use.

4) Some Biomass conversion projects are from animal wastes and are relatively small
and therefore are limited.
A machine for producing continuous power in which a wheel or rotor, typically fitted with vanes,
is made to revolve by a fast-moving flow of water, steam, gas, air, or other fluid.

Turbines are also divided by their principle of operation and can be:

1. An Impulse turbine, which is driven by a high-velocity jet (or multiple jets) of water.
2. A Reaction turbine. The rotor of a reaction turbine is fully immersed in water and is enclosed
in a pressure casing. The runner blades are profiled so that pressure differences across them
impose lift forces, just as on aircraft wings, which cause the runner to rotate faster than is
possible with a jet.
3. A Gravity turbine is driven simply by the weight of water entering the top of the turbine and
falling to the bottom, where it is released – for example, an overshot waterwheel. These are
inherently slow-running machines.

Modern Turbine-Types
The principal types of turbine in use today.

Impulse Turbines
The Pelton Turbine consists of a wheel with a series of split buckets set around its rim; a high
velocity jet of water is directed tangentially at the wheel. The jet hits each bucket and is split in
half, so that each half is turned and deflected back almost through 180º. Nearly all the energy
of the water goes into propelling the bucket and the deflected water falls into a discharge
channel below.

The Turgo turbine is similar to the Pelton but the jet strikes the plane of the runner at an angle (typically 20° to 25°)
so that the water enters the runner on one side and exits on the other. Therefore the flow rate is not limited by the
discharged fluid interfering with the incoming jet (as is the case with Pelton turbines). As a consequence, a Turgo
turbine can have a smaller diameter runner and rotate faster than a Pelton for an equivalent flow rate.

The Crossflow turbine has a drum-like rotor with a solid disk at each end and gutter-shaped “slats” joining the two
disks. A jet of water enters the top of the rotor through the curved blades, emerging on the far side of the rotor by
passing through the blades a 2nd time. The shape of the blades is such that on each passage through the
periphery of the rotor the water transfers some of its momentum, before falling away with little r esidual energy.

Reaction Turbines
Reaction turbines exploit the oncoming flow of water to generate hydrodynamic lift forces to
propel the runner blades. They are distinguished from the impulse type by having a runner
that always functions within a completely water-filled casing.

All reaction turbines have a diffuser known as a ‘draft tube’ below the runner through which
the water discharges. The draft tube slows the discharged water and so creates suction below
the runner which increases the effective head.

Propeller-type turbines are similar in principle to the propeller of a ship, but operating in
reversed mode.

A set of inlet guide vanes admits the flow to the propeller and these are often adjustable so as
to allow the flow passing through the machine to be varied. In some cases the blades of the
runner can also be adjusted, in which case the turbine is called a Kaplan. The mechanics for
adjusting turbine blades and guide vanes can be costly and tend to be more affordable for
large systems, but can greatly improve efficiency over a wide range of flows.

The Francis turbine is essentially a modified form of propeller turbine in which water flows
radially inwards into the runner and is turned to emerge axially. For medium-head schemes,
the runner is most commonly mounted in a spiral casing with internal adjustable guide vanes.

Since the cross-flow turbine is now a less costly (though less efficient) alternative to the spiral-
case Francis, it is rare for these turbines to be used on sites of less than 100 kW output.

Pit-Francis. The Francis turbine was originally designed as a low-head machine, installed in
an open chamber (or ‘pit’) without a spiral casing. Thousands of such machines were installed
in the UK and the rest of Europe from the 1920s to the 1960s. Although an efficient turbine, it
was eventually superseded by the propeller turbine which is more compact and faster-running
for the same head and flow conditions. However, many of these ‘open-flume’ or ‘wall plate’
Francis turbines are still in place, hence this technology is still relevant for refurbishment

Gravity Turbines
The Archimedes Screw has been used as a pump for centuries, but has only recently been
used in reverse as a turbine. It’s principle of operation is the same as the overshot
waterwheel, but the clever shape of the helix allows the turbine to rotate faster than the
equivalent waterwheel and with high efficiency of power conversion (over 80%). However they
are still slow-running machines, which require a multi-stage gearbox to drive a standard
generator. A key advantage of the Screw is that it avoids the need for a fine screen and
automatic screen cleaner because most debris can pass safely through the turbine. The
Archimedian screw is proven to be a ‘fish-friendly’ turbine.

Relative Efficiencies
A water turbine running at a certain speed will draw a particular flow. If there is not sufficient
flow in the river to meet this demand, the turbine could start to drain the river and its
performance rapidly degrades. It therefore either has to shut down, or it has to change its
internal geometry – a process known as regulation. Regulated turbines can move their inlet
guide vanes and/or runner blades in order to increase or reduce the amount of flow they draw.
The efficiency of the different turbines will inevitably reduce as they draw less flow. The typical
variation is shown in below. Therefore a significant factor in the comparison of different turbine
types is their relative efficiencies both at their design point and at reduced flows. For example,
Pelton and Kaplan turbines retain very high efficiencies when running below design flow;
whereas the efficiency of Crossflow and Francis turbines falls away more rapidly if run at
below half their normal flow.