Burning biomass with coal

Burning biomass with coal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at power plants could yeild enviornmental benefits. It at least has the benefit of using minimal energy to process the biomass before burning.
According to Earth2Tech blog

A Polish coal plant, which will cofire biomass (burn biomass at the same time as coal) to help reduce its emissions by 25% compared with the country’s current coal plants, is due to come online in 2009. A major Polish power group, Poludniowy Koncern Energetyczny, estimates its total cost at €500 million ($735 million

This is exactly the dilemma of most ethanol-based biofuels, it makes some difference but probably not much overall. (like jumping from the 20th instead of the 36th floor of a building you’re less likely to die, but not much). Much better to work hard at reducing demand through greatly increased efficiency of electrical equipment.

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2 Responses to Burning biomass with coal

  1. Van 14 September, 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    The problem with Biomass is the MASS. Torrefaction (heating the wood in the absence of oxygen)significantly reduces the mass, and makes it possible to grind the biomass into a power like substance.

    Biomass torrefication shows considerable promise. http://www.torrefication.blogspot.com

    I like the analogy of the burning building, but since there is no single 30 story ladder around, it might be that one fuel source(biomass) gets us to the 20th floor, another (algae) gets us to the 10th floor and so on. Think of it as coupling together bed sheets to get down. Scary that that’s all we got, but while we wait for a technological breakthrough its a good idea to make our way donw…..

  2. Simon Robinson 15 September, 2008 at 9:59 am #

    Hey Van,

    why stop at drying it out a little? why not go the whole hog and thermally decompose the wood chps to carbon dioxide and methane gas, this can be processed into many chemicals and fuels like ethanol relatively simply. OK I can see one situation where that would not make sense, if the wood chips are too far from the market for ethanol.

    You are quite right, there is no one single answer to the fuel conundrum. It would also be better to take a portfolio approach to spread the risk between segments and stakeholders. Let’s hope we’ve got enough bedsheets.

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