Man holding wood chips
Biomass energy, which refers to renewable energy from plant and animal waste, takes advantage of stored energy from the sun. Through photosynthesis, the sun’s energy is stored in plant material and passed along to animals and people in chemical form when consumed. Johnson Controls biomass energy solutions are designed to unlock the energy stored in plant and animal waste.

Biomass Boilers

In a typical installation, biomass byproducts are burned or raised to very high temperatures to release the chemical energy as heat. The heat is used to boil water in biomass boilers, creating steam. The steam is then used to turn turbines and generators to produce electricity.

Biomass Gasification

When biomass is heated with little or no oxygen it gasifies to a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen known as synthesis gas. Like natural gas, synthesis gas can be used as a low BTU fossil fuel replacement in applications such as steam or electric generation. Gasification systems typically produce lower emissions and thus need less pollution control equipment.

Is this the right technology for my situation?

The following elements are important for biomass to be a viable option.
Acceptable biomass fuel source (waste wood products, agricultural waste, etc.) should be available in adequate quantities within 50-75 miles of the plant.
In order to justify the capital expense, biomass fuel costs typically need to be less than 1/3 of the cost per BTU of the fuel it is replacing. Green wood biomass would typically need to be in the $10 -$25/ton range.
Adequate scale is required for good economics. typical thermal load should be in the 20-100 MMBtu range.
Should have adequate site for fuel handling -- fuel storage on site, noise, aesthetics, and traffic implications of a solid fuel stream.
Year round load is critical. Thermal load is much more valuable than electric load. Load factors above 50% provide the best economics.
Combined heat and power applications are usually required for good economics.

Biomass Facts:

(Source: DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy site)
Biomass supplies almost 15-times as much energy in the U.S. as wind and solar power combined.
Biopower refers to burning biomass directly, or converting it into gaseous or liquid fuels that burn more efficiently, in order to generate electricity.
It is estimated that over 500 million dry tons of biomass, equivalent to 8.09 quads of primary energy, are available now.
Biofuels – Converting biomass into liquid fuels for transportation
Bioproducts – Converting biomass into chemicals for making plastics and other products that typically are made from petroleum
Common types of biomass include:Wood, wood residue and wood products
Tree trimmings
Animal litter
Logging residue (slash)
Nut and grain hulls and chaff

To read a more in-depth review of this technology, visit the NREL website:

Did You Know?

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