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Biomass

A Brief Description:

Biomass is organic non-fossil material, collectively. In other words, biomass comprises the mass of all biological organisms, dead or alive, excluding biological mass that has been transformed by geological processes into substances such as coal or petroleum.

The most successful animal of the earth, in terms of biomass, is the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, with a biomass of probably over 500 million tonnes, roughly twice the total biomass of humans. The entire earth contains about 75 billion tons of biomass. Humans comprise about 250 million tonnes (0.33%), domesticated animals about 700 million (1.0%), and crops about 2 billion tons or 2.7% of the Earth's biomass.

In many ways biomass can be considered as a form of stored solar energy. The energy of the sun is 'captured' through the process of photosynthesis in growing plants.

Biomass is sometimes burned as fuel for cooking and to produce electricity and heat. This is called Biofuel. Biomass used as fuel often consists of underutilized types, like chaff and animal waste. This is often considered a type of alternative energy, although it is a polluting one.

Paradoxically, in some industrialized countries like Germany, food is cheaper than fuel compared by price per joule. Central heating units supplied by food grade wheat or maize are available.

31 Jan 2007 03:02:57

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