Biomass to Energy Overview

What is Biomass Energy?

A carbon-neutral fuel source

What is Biomass Energy?

Proven Technology to Utilize Biomass as a Renewable Energy Source

Biomass is a renewable energy source consisting of living or recently living organisms. Generally, this means plants and trees in the form of industrial and agricultural scrap.

How a Biomass Combustion Energy Plant Works

Our biomass technology helps to protect the earth and atmosphere from greenhouse gas emissions. Since biomass consists of “recently alive” material, burning biomass is CO2-neutral in the sense that it only releases the quantity of CO2 that the plant absorbed during growth.

Some biomass needs pre-treatment before the fuel is fed onto a combustion grate where it is burned. The heat from the combustion is used to fire the boiler, which in turn generates hot water or steam. The steam turns a turbine which produces electricity.


Biomass Fuel Types

In general, biomass fuels are evaluated on the basis of their physical properties (density, size distribution, humidity, foreign matter) and chemical properties (calorific value, proximate analyses, ultimate analyses, ash analyses, and ash-melting behavior).

Today we can recover energy from biomass in highly efficient energy plants – generating heat, process steam, electricity, syngas, and/or bio-oil. Many of our biomass energy solutions are combined heat and power (CHP).

Biomass can be derived from a variety of sources, and it’s essential to understand the properties and chemical composition of each one. Some biomass needs pre-treatment before the fuel is fed onto a combustion grate where it is burned.

Biomass Fuels Include:

  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Bark chips
  • Straw
  • Waste wood
  • Other opportunity fuels


Multi-fuel Energy

Multi-fuel Energy - Designed for fuel flexibility

Today there are a large number of plants using different types of biomass to produce energy. While some exclusively use straw or wood chips, others are preparing for a future of flexibility by firing with multi-fuel – a mixture of various kinds of biomass, contaminated bio waste, and certain types of refuse-derived fuels (RDF).

The primary advantage of our multi-fuel solutions is that they provide more opportunities to use locally available biomass and less dependency on seasonal fuels. Instead of having to store biomass fuel or collect it from other areas, these multi-fuel energy plants can interchange fuels and maintain steady production throughout the year.

How a Multi-fuel Plant Works

A multi-fuel facility works in very much the same way as a traditional waste-to-energy plant. The “fuel” (municipal waste, industrial/agricultural bi-products, bio waste, refuse-derived fuels, etc.) is fed to a grate where it is burned, thus creating heat that is used to fire boilers, which in turn generate hot water or steam to drive electricity producing turbines.

The challenge of firing with multi-fuel lies in the widely differing characteristics of biomass fuel. For example, biomass ashes do not melt at the same temperature; different types of fuel do not burn in the same way and therefore don’t produce the same emissions. Our multi-fuel technology is able to handle the various methods of combustion and also ensures an optimum, thoroughly reliable result for each type of fuel at one and the same time.

Biomass Technologies & Services

B&W has been trusted suppliers of biomass combustion technologies for many years. Our extensive list of commercially demonstrated and industry-accepted products have stood the test of time in providing reliable steam generation for both process and electric power applications. While offering a highly available and readily dispatchable renewable energy source, the combustion of biomass also provides environmental benefits such as reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and mercury, when compared with other fossil fuels. Biomass is also a carbon dioxide (CO2)-neutral renewable energy source.

Biomass combustion:

  • Pretreatment technologies
  • Stokers (air spouts, screw feeder, ram feeder)
  • Bubbling fluidized-bed, circulating fluidized-bed and stoker boilers
  • Combustion technologies (vibrating grate, burners)

Biomass Boiler Types

Emissions control:

  • Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems for NOx reduction
  • Electrostatic precipitator (ESP) or fabric filter for particulate control
  • Flue gas desulfurization system for SO2 and acid gas control

B&W Biomass Renewable Energy Solutions (PDF - 4MB)

Renewable Energy Solutions (PDF - 7MB)

Carbon-Neutral Biomass

Readily available renewable energy with environmental benefits.

Biomass is a renewable, carbon-neutral, cost-effective and reliable fuel. Learn more about wood chips, wheat straw, bagasse and B&W's experience with a wide range of other unique fuels and environmentally sound technologies to ensure reliable and efficient energy utilization.

Multi-Fuel Flexibility

Technologies for the widely differing characteristics of opportunity fuels

Tomorrow's energy plants need to be ultra-flexible and our multi-fuel technology gives you the best flexibility and high thermal efficiency for your business case.

Aftermarket Support

Service and Support

Our specialists provide a wide range of services, improvements and upgrades to maximize the useful lifetime of a waste-to-energy, biomass, multi-fuel or fossil fuel-fired plant.

Biomass Success Stories

UK Flag
Port Talbot, South Wales
Waste Wood-Fired Biomass Power Plant Case Study
This new biomass plant will be capable of processing waste wood, including contaminated wood and fuel containing metals, with no pre-treatment required. The plant will generate 40 MW of green electricity, which is enough to supply 78,000 homes.
View Case Study
Denmark Flag
Assens, Denmark
Biomass-Fired CHP Plant Case Study
The building of the combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Assens is part of the political 1993 biomass agreement aimed at converting all district heating plants larger than 1 MW into biomass-based CHP plants. It has the capacity to supply nearly all of the town’s 5,400 inhabitants with combined heat and power.
View Case Study
Denmark Flag
Skaerbaek, Denmark
Biomass Boilers WtE Case Study
Babcock & Wilcox Renewable (B&W) designed, manufactured and commissioned two biomass boilers for the Skærbækværket power plant in Denmark. The project allows the combined heating and power plant to supply approximately 60,000 households with clean and reliable district heating and electricity while reducing carbon emissions.
View Case Study