Biomass (all forms)
Biomass refers to plant based materials, recently grown (not fossil fuels), that are used to produce energy. Through combustion, biomass is directly converted into usable energy. For example, many people burn wood or wood pellets and other quickly growing biomass media in order to heat their homes.
Other forms of biomass energy occur once biomass is converted to biofuel. This process is typically done through thermal, chemical, or biochemical means. For instance, biomass such as organic (carbon based, compostable) food waste, leaf litter, manure, etc., can be used to aerobically (with oxygen/composting) or anaerobically (without oxygen) produce methane and other gases that are captured to produce energy.
(Image (right) of UW Oshkosh's anaerobic biodigester facility.)
The University of Oshkosh located in Oshkosh Wisconsin has partnered with the Viessman Group in order to build the first dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester in the northern hemisphere. UW Oshkosh has also built two other biodigesters, located at farms near Oshkosh. One biodigester is located on the Rosendale dairy farm (the largest dairy farm in the state with over 8,000 head of dairy, and the other (notably smaller) is located on the Allen Farm in Allenville, WI. The waste they produce at the Rosendale dairy is on par with the entire population of the fox cities on a daily basis. This waste will now be diverted into the biodigester to minimize waste transfer cost, produce electricity, and create a usable substance to be used on farm fields.
(CC Image of home-scale biogas plant by Fmarree (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)