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What Is BioEnergy? - Simple Definition
Organic material containing bioenergy is commonly known as biomass. Humans can use this biomass in many different ways, through something as simple as burning wood, or as complex as using bacteria to create biogas like we do at CCI. Since almost all bioenergy can be traced back to energy from sunlight, bioenergy has the major advantage of being a renewable energy source. Bioenergy is energy derived from biomass bound up during the process of photosynthesis. It is a renewable energy.
Bioenergy can be used to make fuels, generate electricity and provide heat. Wood, which people have used to cook and keep warm for thousands of years, continues to be the largest biomass resource. Today there are also many other types of biomass we can use to produce energy. Biomass resources include:
BioEnergy From Your Waste(d) Organic Assets
At CCI we produce bioenergy from biogas created by a naturally occurring biological process known as anaerobic digestion (AD). The feedstock for the biology is the organic fraction of the waste we all generate every day as individuals or businesses - municipal solid waste (MSW). At CCI we refer to the bioenergy we produce with your waste as “divert-to-convert” energy. We use your wasted organic assets to create community-based renewable energy for consumption in your community or business.
The biogas averages 65% methane content, is produced continuously and there is an abundant supply of organics everywhere in our communities and businesses. This broad availability and flexibility makes biogas based renewables unique when compared to the other renewable energy forms – sun, wind, water and geothermal. The opportunity to utilize the biogas in multiple ways creates an operating environment that provides choice and is flexible to change. The opportunities include:
1. Cogeneration (CHP)
The biogas is combusted using reciprocating engines to produce electricity and heat (CHP- combined heat and power). Both are then available for sale into the open marketplace or directly to other facilities near the site. Alternatively, the electricity can be used internally to meet electrical needs and the heating requirements in the facility and digestion process.
2. Upgrading to Pipeline Grade (Biomethane)
Biomethane is an interchangeable term for biogas which is produced by anaerobic digestion. Once upgraded by the removal of the approximately 35% that is non-methane, chemically it becomes identical to natural gas. Most all utility companies are developing programs that will allow for the injection of this product directly into their natural gas distribution pipelines.
3. Conversion to Biofuels
The conversion to liquid biofuels has occurred in Europe for decades and is now seen in North America as a viable use opportunity. The biogas is upgraded and compressed to create a biofuel identical to compressed natural gas (CNG). The opportunity to create a sustainable solution that envisions the energy for collection being created from the waste collected.