Difference Between Biomass and Biogas

Main Difference – Biomass vs Biogas

Biomass and biogas are related to each other. Biogas is produced from biomass. In other words, biomass is the starting material or the raw material for the production of biogas. The major component of biomass is carbon. Therefore, biogas is also composed of a carbon component. Biogas is composed of different gases. Biogas is produced by the breakdown of organic matter. There are many differences between biomass and biogas; the main difference between biomass and biogas is that biomass is a solid material whereas biogas is a mixture of gaseous compounds.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Biomass
      – Definition, Sources, Uses
2. What is Biogas
      – Definition, Formation, Uses
3. What are the Similarities Between Biomass and Biogas
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Biomass and Biogas
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Anaerobic Digestion, Biogas, Biomass, Carbon, Combustion, Decomposition, Digester, Flame, WoodDifference Between Biomass and Biogas - Comparison Summary

What is Biomass

Biomass is the biological material that is derived from living organisms. It can be defined as the total mass of organisms in a given area or volume. This term is applicable to both plant and animal-derived material. Biomass is considered as a source of fuel derived from organic materials. It is a renewable and sustainable source of energy. Biomass can be used to produce electricity or other forms of energy.

Some sources of biomass are wood and waste derived from wood, forest debris, animal manure, agricultural crops, and waste, etc. The largest component of biomass comes from wood. Biomass includes plant and animal matter that can be converted into important chemicals, including biofuels.

Main Difference - Biomass vs Biogas

Figure 1: A biomass pyramid shows how much biomass is present in each level of classification.

Biomass may include all biological materials of living organisms. For example, sugarcane is the biomass used for the production of bioethanol. Biomass can be converted into other types of energy. This conversion can be done by burning. For example, burning wood gives energy in the form of heat and light. Biomass can also be decomposed in order to form biogas. This decomposition can occur as a natural process or an industrial process using digesters.

Moreover, biomass can be converted into biodiesel, bioethanol, etc. through fermentation. For this process to occur, vegetable fat and animal fat is used as a raw material.

What is Biogas

Biogas is a mixture of gases that is produced from organic matter. This can happen in two ways: natural processes and industrial processes. It is a type of biofuel. Naturally, it is produced by the decomposition of organic matter. In industries, it is produced using digesters. The sources of organic matter that is useful for the production of biogas include animal manure, sludge, waste, food scraps, etc.

The breakdown of this organic matter in anaerobic conditions will produce biogas. An anaerobic environment is a surrounding which has no molecular oxygen present. This anaerobic digestion releases a mixture of gases. Biogas is produced from anaerobic digestion done by anaerobic microorganisms. It is the natural process of producing biogas.

Difference Between Biomass and Biogas

Figure 2: Biogas Plant

Biogas is a flammable gas. Therefore, it is combustible. It forms a blue flame when combusted. This is a good source of energy. The major components of biogas include methane and carbon dioxide. Biogas can be named according to the place where it is produced.

Biogas is used as a fuel and is a biofuel. Biogas can be produced from different types of organic matter. Therefore, it can be used to treat municipal wastewater, industrial wastewater, etc. Biogas can be used in several ways including the production of gas, electricity, heat, and transportation fuels.

Similarities Between Biomass and Biogas

  • Biomass and biogas are biofuels.
  • They are sources of energy.
  • Both of them are renewable fuels

Difference Between Biomass and Biogas

Definition

Biomass: Biomass is the biological material derived from living organisms.

Biogas: Biogas is a mixture of gases produced from organic matter.

Phase of Matter

Biomass:  Biomass is in the solid state.

Biogas: Biogas is in the gaseous state.

Sources

Biomass: Sources of biomass are living organisms and organisms that died recently.

Biogas: Sources of biogas are organic matter.  

Components

Biomass: Biomass is composed of biological material.

Biogas: Biogas is mainly composed of methane and carbon dioxide.

Conclusion

Both biomass and biogas are valuable biofuels. These biofuels can be used to make heat energy required for household works, as fuels for transportation, to produce electricity, etc. But there are differences between biomass and biogas. The main difference between biomass and biogas is that biomass is solid material whereas biogas is a gaseous compound.

References:

1. “Biogas.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 June 2017, Available here.
2. Webdesign, Insyde. “How Does Biogas Work?” Simgas, Available here.
3. “What is Biomass? Biomass is fuel developed from organic materials.” ReEnergy Holdings, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Biomass Pyramid” By Swiggity.Swag.YOLO.Bro – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Biogas plant sketch” By SNV – SNV (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

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