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Biomass has been a renewable form of energy, known to humans for many years. By biomass we mean any material that comes from living organisms such as wood and other forest products, agricultural residues, livestock waste, food industry waste, municipal waste, etc., which can be used as fuel for energy production. Biogas is a methane-rich gas produced from organic waste and can be used to generate heat and electricity, but also as fuel for internal combustion engines.

Biomass is a bound and stored form of solar energy, a result of the photosynthetic activity of plants, and is mainly composed of compounds that have basic elements as carbon and hydrogen. The main forms of biomass are:

  • Agricultural by-products (crop residues, processing residues of agricultural products such as fruit pits, kernel etc.).
  • Livestock waste and waste.
  • Biomass of forest origin.
  • Energy plants (cane, myrtle, sweet sorghum, eucalyptus, etc.).
  • Organic part of municipal solid waste

Advantages of biomass power generation technologies:

  • Combustion of biomass has a zero carbon dioxide (CO2) balance and does not contribute to the greenhouse effect,
  • The low sulfur content in biomass contributes significantly to the reduction of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions responsible for acid rain.
  • Since biomass is a domestic energy source, its use of energy contributes significantly to reducing dependence on imported fuels and improving the trade balance, securing energy supply and saving on foreign exchange.
  • Energy utilization of biomass in a region contributes to the overall development of the agricultural and agro-industrial sectors and to stimulating agricultural income.

Wood heating is an example of using biomass as an energy source and has been known for many years. Today the main applications of biomass as a renewable energy source are:

  • Greenhouse heating: biomass is used as fuel in suitable boilers for greenhouse heating.
  • Heating buildings with biomass combustion in individual / central boilers: individual / central kernel boilers are used to heat buildings.
  • Energy production in agricultural industries: used by agricultural industries where biomass is produced in significant quantities as a residue or by-product of the production process and has increased heat requirements. Olive mills, oil mills, rice industries and canning industries burn their residues (ginning residues, kernel, bark and pellets, respectively) to meet their thermal needs and / or part of their electricity needs.
  • Energy production in wood industries: The residues of wood processing industries (sawdust, powder, razors, etc.) are used to meet the thermal needs of the process as well as to heat buildings.
  • District heating: is the supply of space heating as well as hot water to a set of buildings, a settlement, a village or a city, from a central heat station using biomass as fuel. Heat is transferred through a pre-insulated pipeline from the station to the heated buildings.
  • Biogas Power Generation: Biogas produced from biomass is burned in internal combustion engines to generate electricity. At the same time, the thermal energy of the exhaust gas and the engine coolant may be utilized to meet process and / or other heating needs (eg building heating).
  • Production of biofuels. Liquid fuels produced by different types of biomass. Biofuels are produced from vegetable materials, specific crops and from recycled or used seed oils. The use of biofuels in vehicles has the effect of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector.


Biogas, which is a renewable energy source, is produced by anaerobic digestion of mainly livestock wastes (wastewater from pigs, greenhouses or wastes from bio-purification plants), industrial waste and sewage, as well as from municipal organic waste (bio-waste) landfill - landfill). It is typically made up of 65% methane and 35% carbon dioxide and can be used to generate heat and electricity (their combination, ie electricity and heat cogeneration), as well as fuel for internal combustion engines. One cubic meter of biogas replaces 0.66 liters of diesel or 0.75 liters of oil or 0.85 kg of carbon. The economics of a biogas plant are based on the fact that the raw material has zero or negative value, while its products are undoubtedly of commercial value.

In the last two decades in Europe, the ever-increasing problem of waste and waste disposal, the search for alternative energy sources as well as the world's environmental awareness have made biogas production an economically acceptable and environmentally friendly process.

Nowadays its application extends from very small livestock farms to very large biological treatment plants. There are more than 700 biogas plants operating in Europe that process animal waste or combine different types of waste from agricultural sources. The strong growth of biogas plants is due to the high concentration of livestock per unit area. The development of livestock farming has led to the production of huge quantities of animal waste and the creation of intractable problems in their treatment and disposal in the environment. The development of biogas technologies offers a number of advantages and environmental benefits such as:

  • saving money for farmers,
  • improved lubrication efficiency,
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions,
  • economically and environmentally acceptable waste recycling,
  • reduced odors and presence of insects,
  • possibilities for reducing pathogens.

A biogas plant not only offers the potential to utilize the biogas energy potential, but also participates in the overall treatment of the waste produced by its poultry farming activity, reducing its pollutant load.

Gasification systems

Biomass gasification is a process that converts organic or mineral materials based on carbon, carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, traces of hydrocarbons and nitrogen. In addition to the above compounds in the gaseous product there are various contaminants, the main ones being tar particles, ash, ammonia, acids and complex hydrocarbons.

Gasification is based on the conversion of a portion of solid primary material into a fuel gas in the presence of an oxidizing agent such as air, oxygen or steam in controlled quantities. The resulting gas mixture is called synthetic gas or synthetic gas or xylene gas. This gas can be used as a fuel with a calorific value in a stoichiometric ratio of almost 75% of that of natural gas.

Biomass gasification is one of the most efficient and environmentally acceptable technologies for generating electricity and heat. Its main advantage is that it is more efficient in producing electricity than combustion technologies. Indicative advantages:

  • is not based on combustion / incineration, but on gasification and pyrolysis.
  • It is efficient for power generation, even in small-scale installations.
  • It can utilize biomass from agro-industrial waste in a sustainable and ecological way.
  • It achieves levels of energy production from renewables far higher than conventional combustion technologies.
  • It can generate electricity 24 hours a day, compared to other RES technologies.
  • It does not leave residues of biodegradable fractions.
  • It does not cause harmful gas emissions.
  • It has minimal installation requirements and the unit can be adapted to the needs.
  • Electricity Generation - Sale to PPC at Guaranteed Price 0.198 € / KWh for 27 Years for Generating Units ≤1 MW (Government Gazette 4254 - 7/4/2014).
  • Exploitation of Heat Production during the production process. At the same time, the heat emitted during the production of electricity can be used to heat the interior and to use Hot Water at zero cost).

Biofuels - biofuels systems

In addition to producing heat and electricity, biomass can be used for the production of liquid fuels (biofuels) used in transport. The most common in the market are biodiesel, methyl ester which is mainly produced from oilseeds (sunflower, rapeseed, etc.) and can be used either alone or in a blend of diesel in diesel engines and bioethanol. The latter is produced from sugarcane, cellulose and starch plants (wheat, corn, sorghum, beets, etc.) and is used, either individually in converted gasoline engines, or in a mixture of gasoline in regular gasoline engines or E engines. (gasoline additive).

Oilseed rape is one of the main oilseeds produced in Europe, and is the most widely used biodiesel raw material. The oil goes through a chemical process (esterification) and is converted to methyl ester. Rape biodiesel is also called rapeseed methyl ester.

Biodiesel can also be produced from recycled or used cooking oils and thus provides a useful outlet for disposing of these oils, which otherwise would have to be disposed of in an alternative, environmentally acceptable manner. Biodiesel is an alternative fuel to diesel fuel, while bioethanol is an additive to gasoline or a substitute. It can completely replace or blend conventional diesel in different proportions for use in diesel engines.

The physical and chemical properties of biodiesel are very similar to that of mineral oil, and conventional engines do not need modifications to use blends with low blends of conventional biodiesel.

Bioethanol is prepared by fermenting sugars, starch or cellulose using yeast. Bioethanol can be used in a mixture or 100% bioethanol can be used in modified ignition engines, although a small percentage of volatile fuel (usually gasoline) is required to address the problem of low temperature starter.

The bioethanol blends have higher latent heat of evaporation than pure gasoline. Thus, these mixtures are more difficult to start in winter, while the hydrophilic properties of bioethanol can cause problems in fuel management, storage and distribution.

New cutting-edge technologies (eg palm oil, rapeseed oil) can be burnt directly, without converting to biodiesel and without blending with oil or solvents. Combustion takes place on specially designed diesel engines which, in conjunction with the generator, form a generator set (PC) and result in the generation of electricity and heat:

  • Electricity Generation - Sale to PPC at Guaranteed Price 0.198 € / KWh for 27 Years for Generating Units ≤1 MW (Government Gazette 4254 - 7/4/2014).
  • Exploitation of Heat Production during the production process. At the same time, the heat emitted during the production of electricity can be used to heat the interior and to use Hot Water at zero cost).

Their operation is based on the consumption of vegetable oils in Internal Combustion Engines, ie conventional diesel engines that have been tested for their performance during operation and their longevity, using them to generate electricity while exploiting the heat produced. All known vegetable oils (sunflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, etc.) but also the less well known such as rapeseed, and palm oil can be used.

For the production of electricity from liquid fuels is used a PC (generator pair) consisting of a diesel engine and a generator. With the necessary technical factory modifications, the diesel engine can use vegetable oils for fuel. In fact, this idea is not recent, since the original engine design by Rudolf Diesel foresaw the use of vegetable oils. It is a soundproof system and is automated as it controls both the power supply and the operation of the unit while there is remote monitoring from the system control center.

Vegetable oil e.g. rapeseed oil could be described as 'total ecological fuel', since its use pollutants are emitted at a level well below the European Union's minimum standards, according to international measurements. Pancakes can also be used as fuel in the specially modified diesel engine after use. Pancakes are hazardous waste and require special management after collection. Using pans as a fuel not only minimizes the cost of managing them, but also uses them to generate energy. 


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