Why biofuels instead of fossil fuels?
The accelerated civilization development on Earth in the 20th century caused a sharp increase in energy demand. Generating energy for the production of goods and satisfying the living needs of people resulted in an increase in the content of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by several dozen percent. This increase is causing the planet to warm up and climate change, which threaten with unpredictable consequences in the short and long term. In order to avoid unpredictable disasters it was considered, that the first responsibility of mankind at the beginning of the 21st century is to reduce CO emissions2 from all technological processes. This challenge is sponsored by the United Nations.
The main actions that can reduce CO emissions2 to the atmosphere are:
• reducing energy consumption, which is obtained by carrying out thermo-modernization works consisting in thermal insulation of external building partitions, replacement of windows and doors, modernization and automation of internal central heating and hot water installations;
• increasing the efficiency of converting chemical energy of fuels into useful energy, which is achieved by using for heating boilers, ovens, fireplaces and high-efficiency installations, characterized by modern design and automation of device operation control;
• increasing the use of Renewable Energy Resources, which is achieved by replacing fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) renewable fuels (wood, straw, biogas) and solar energy systems (solar panels) or geothermal (heat pump).
The energy user for heating has an influence on all the above-mentioned activities.
Fossil fuel resources (oil and natural gas) will run out during the lifetime of the user. Increased demand with decreasing supply over time will cause a large increase in their prices. Fossil fuels will become increasingly difficult to access by less affluent societies. The price of coal will follow the price of oil and gas, which will make the use of this fuel in small boilers unprofitable.
On the other hand, opposite tendencies will shape the solid biofuels market, which is the local market. Increased consumption will result in increased production. Higher production helps to reduce unit costs. The price of biofuels should be cost-based and independent of changes in the prices of fossil fuels on the world markets.
Benefits for the environment
All plant products are classified as renewable fuels for this reason, that their organic mass is formed in the process of photosynthesis from water and carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere, what causes, that their combustion does not increase the concentration of CO2 particles in the atmosphere , because these are absorbed by newly growing plants grown for energy purposes.
An example of the formation of organic mass is the following chemical reaction formula in the photosynthesis process:
6 CO2 + 6 H2O –> C6H12O6 + 6 O2
In addition to reducing CO emissions2, the use of biofuels also contributes to a significant reduction in the emission of other gases and dusts harmful to humans, such as SO2, CO, CnHm, NOx, especially when the emission of these gases and dust takes place from low chimneys. The so-called. means, that pollutants get into the air, which is inhaled by humans.
The most popular fuel in Poland, which is hard coal, it is the worst fuel for small boilers, due to causing the highest emission of poisonous gases. On the other hand, coal is burnt in large boiler houses, heat and power plants and power plants does not pose such a great threat, due to the exhaust gas cleaning systems that exist there, high chimneys and highly efficient devices controlled automatically.
Solid biofuels can be produced in forest and agricultural plantations. It is accepted, that energy wood from the forest is the worst quality wood, not suitable for other commercial use. Increasing the supply of this wood is possible only with a more accurate one “collection” unusable forest waste, which are still in abundance in the forest today. On the other hand, the production of solid biofuels on agricultural land has very large development opportunities in Poland. Is estimated, that there will be approx. 3 million hectares of agricultural land. The yield of highly cultured crops can reach 15 tonnes of dry matter per hectare. Assuming half the average yield per hectare per year, i.e.. 7,5 tony, we get approx. 100 GJ of energy contained in the fuel. This is the quantity, which is needed to heat one single-family house. The cost of this energy mass is approx. 1 000 zloty. The financial benefits are easy to calculate depending on the acreage intended for cultivation. On a national scale, it is possible to create over 100 000 jobs in the production of biofuels from energy crops.
Availability of technology
The last decade has seen an extremely accelerated development of solid biomass combustion technology. Boilers with a capacity of several kW to several hundred MW are produced, and are used for heating single-family houses, settlements and cities. The efficiency of these boilers exceeds 90%, and the emissions of harmful gases and dusts are comparable to those from the best oil and gas boilers with this advantage, that for biofuels the CO balance2 is zero. The degree of automation of even small boilers allows them to be considered almost maintenance-free, because they are equipped with automatic fuel feeding installations, ash removal and combustion process control. Prices are falling and are starting to be comparable to the prices of oil installations.