Biofuels are fuels that are made of biomass. Biomass is organic plant matter produced in photosynthesis. Raw material for biofuel comes from forests, bogs, fields, and everywhere else where large amounts of biomass grow.
Biofuels processed from biomass can replace part of the fossil fuels used in transportation, and thus reduce oil dependency and the environmental impact of transportation. Providing the biofuel used is made of domestic biomass, it will also increase the domestic revenues and energy management security.
The most important biomasses in Finland are wood and peat, used either combusted or otherwise turned into heat and electricity. Awareness is growing, and also other biomasses such as industrial and municipal waste and sludge, and manure from agriculture are getting more attention as potential raw materials for biofuel. These can be processed into biogas or they can be combusted.
Biofuels from Wood
Biofuels that are made of wood are wood, wood chips, felling waste, stumps and pellets; saw dust and shavings from the lumber industry and briquettes made of these. Dry wood material in its different forms has high energy content and is an excellent heat source. Wood is one of the most important raw materials that we have. The slow growth of our domestic growing stock is compensated for by the vast forestry area and the annual growth.
Peat is slowly renewable biomass. Peat is used as fuel in small plants in heat production, in bigger power plants and both in heat and electricity production. Peat accumulates of dead plant material that decomposes in very moist circumstances. The decomposition is imperfect due to moisture and lack of oxygen, and thus a slowly growing layer of peat is produced. In Finland circumstances for peat production are fortunate, and peat is constantly accumulating.
Organic waste or compostable waste is industrial, municipal or agricultural waste. It is excellent raw material for biogas. Biogasification is one of the most sensible ways of producing energy, since waste and sludge are inexhaustible natural resources in society.
Raw material sources with the most potential are sludge from wastewater treatment plants, manure and plant biomass from agriculture and bio-based waste from industry and communities. Field crops can be grown for biogas production purposes, and gas from landfill sites can be collected and used in creating energy. In practice, any bio degradable matter works in the process and is thus suitable raw material.
Field biomasses consist of energy plants or their parts grown in fields and bogs. Suitable field biomass plants are willow, hemp, reed canary grass, oil plants, and parts of grain crops such as straw. These can be used as fuels as such, or they can be processed into liquid or solid biofuels. For example, oil plants can be processed into bio diesel.