Biomass refers to carbon-containing materials that have a biological origin and can be utilized as a resource in place of carbon-containing fossil fuels for producing energy and many manufactured products. Most biomass is from plants that have died recently, but biomass also can originate from waste streams such as food and agricultural processing wastes. Biomass also may be found in municipal solid waste streams that currently end up in dumps and land-fills. Depending on where you live, the technical definition of biomass can be different than the legal definition, which influences tax incentives in your State. For example, decaying food in municipal solid waste dumping sites that produces methane gas is not legally considered a renewable or sustainable biomass source in some States. In exploring solutions through a systems approach, we will adopt the broad definition of biomass that includes biomass crops, crop residues, and the recovery of organic-based material from waste streams to convert to energy and a variety of commercial, industrial, and consumer products.
The BBEP workshops and materials include an introduction to the topic of biomass (what it is, how it's produced, what new research is being performed to breed new biomass crops, and how we move this bulky material to and from processing locations (logistics)). A chapter in the primer is dedicated to biomass along with several activities and videos that can be used in the classroom are provided for educators. The workshop primer and lab workbook are available to our workshop participants.