Biomass refers to all the matter that can be obtained from photosynthesis. Most vegetable species use solar energy to create sugars from carbon dioxide and water. They store this energy in the form of glucose or starch molecules, oleaginous, cellulose, and lignocellulose .Biomass appears to be an attractive feedstock for three main reasons. First, it is a renewable resource that could be sustain ably developed in the future. Second, it appears to have formidably positive environmental properties, notably the recycling of carbon in the biological processes, resulting in no net releases of carbon dioxide and a very low sulphur content. Third, it appears to have significant economic potential provided that fossil fuel prices increase, quite substantially, in the future.


Plants absorb energy photosynthetically from the sun

producing natural (energy) products as a result.

Nevertheless, energy auditing of the production and use

of biomass should be continued in order to improve and

further understand where energy economies can be made.

Biomass as feedstock includes materials that can be

converted into various solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels

using biological and thermochemical conversion

processes. Four broad categories of potential biomass

feedstocks can be identified: (1) organic urban or

industrial wastes; (2) agricultural crop residues and

wastes including manure, straw, bagasse, and forestry

waste; (3) existing uncultivated vegetation including

stands of trees, shrubs, bracken, heather, and the like; and

(4) energy plantations, which involve planted energy

crops either on wastelands as has been done during our

previous investigations (1, 2) or on land brought into

production for that purpose, land diverted from other

agricultural production, or as catch crops planted on

productive land.

Due to the historically poor status of biomass-related

R&D, and its neglect on the part of planners and

development agencies, it has been very difficult to

change biomass energy systems in terms of their

production, harvesting, and energy conversion structures

to changing socioeconomic and environmental pressures.

Fortunately, this is now changing somewhat, so that there

is an opportunity to use biomass efficiently for the

production of modern energy carriers such as electricity

and liquid fuels and to improve the lack of efficiency

associated with traditional biomass fuels such as wood

and charcoal. Ideally a successful biomass program

should be sustainable and economical, taking into

account all costs and benefits, especially spillover and

indirect effects, including environmental and health

aspects. The focus of this article is, on effective

utilization of biomass at rural as well as urban level in

India which will improve, environmental concerns, save

foreign exchange, and improve socio economic status of

rural India.


Biomass can be used in solid or liquid forms. The solid

forms of biomass include direct burning of biomass

which is most common in rural India as well as burning

of cow dung for dung cakes which are also burnt directly

or mixed with coal to make round balls of dung and coal


Biofuels in their liquid form, can be classified as


Vegetable oils

Unmodified vegetable oils

Modified vegetable oils




Oxygenated components

2.1 Vegetable Oils

Pure vegetable oils, especially when refined and

deslimed, can be used in prechamber, indirect-injected

engines such as the Deutz model and in swirl-chamber

diesel engines such as the Ellsbett diesel model. They are

also usable when mixed with diesel fuels. Pure vegetable

oil, however, cannot be used in direct-injection diesel

engines, such as those regularly used in standard tractors,

since engine cooking occurs after

several hours of use. All engine types allow additions of

vegetable oils mixed with fuels in reduced and small

proportions, but residues and cooking negatively affect

short-term engine performance. Some vegetable oils also

find application as lubricants and as hydraulic oils. In

addition, they can be used in saw machines. In general

terms, it is possible to substitute mineral oils for

vegetable oils provided that appropriate additives

are included. Plant Sources for vegetable oils. Vegetable

oil can be obtained from more than 300 different plant

species. Oil is contained mainly in fruits and seeds, yet

still other origins exist. The highest oil yields can be

obtained from tree crops, such as palms, coconuts, and

olives, Jatropha Pongamia, Mahua, Salvadora, but there

are a number of field crops containing oils. Climatic and

soil conditions, oil content, yields and the feasibility of

farm operations, however, limit the potential use of

vegetable oils to a reduced number of crops. Apart from


14th European Biomass Conference, 17-21 October 2005, Paris, France

the previously mentioned semirefined oils, vegetable oils

can also be used in the esterificated form. Diesel engines

malfunction if an excess of carbon is present in the

combustion process. It becomes necessary to split the

glycerides causing an excess in the carbon composition.

This can be achieved by treating oil with alcohol

transesterification or by cracking procedures. Ideally,

transesterification is potentially a less expensive way of

transforming the large, branched molecular structure of

the bio-oils into smaller, straight-chain molecules of the

type required in regular diesel combustion engines. The

so called bio ldiesel fuels are oil esters of a biological


Rape oil methyl-ester (RME) and sunflower methyl-ester

(SME) are two biodiesels derived from their

corresponding oil seeds.

Jatropha curcas has great

potential for India as it can be grown on vast areas of

wastelands in the regions having rainfall above 35 mm

per annum.

2.2 Alcohols

Ethanol is a volatile liquid fuel that may be used to

replace refined petroleum. It can be obtained from

different feedstocks. Among them are cereals, sugarcane,

sugarbeet, and tubers as well as cellulose materials,

namely, wood and vegetable remnants, although

production in these cases is much more difficult.

Attention has been focused lately on other plants such as

Jerusalem artichokes, which contain inulin (a fructose

polymer), and on converting lignocellulosic materials

into glucose to obtain ethanol. The ethanol yield from

these products depends mainly on the content in

fermentable glucides and on per-hectare yields. Ethanol

from biomass can readily be used as a blender in

gasoline. To elaborate ethanol, the biomass feedstock is

first separtaed into its three main components: cellulose,

hemicellulose, and lignin. Cellulose is hydrolyzed into

sugars, mainly glucose, which are then easily fermented

into ethanol. Hemicellulose can also be converted into

sugars, such as xylose, but it is difficult to ferment to

produce alcohol. Lignin cannot be fermented, but it can

be used to provide energy for fermentation processes.

There is no chemical difference between ethanol derived

from biomass and fossil origin ethanol.

Another advantage of ethanol is that is can lower the

production of aromatic products found in high octane

gasolines. Ethanol is currently produced in two separate

ways: synthetic ethanol produced from ethylene derived

from hydrocarbon, which is preferred for industrial uses

due to the pureness attained (which can reach values of

99.9% in alcohol), and ethanol obtained from the

fermentation of plants rich in sugar or starch, a process

that is clearly advantageous when using gasoline as a


Calotropis procera and Euphorbia antisyphilitica

have great potential as a source of biofuel from the

biomass residue obtained after extracting the

hydrocarbons with solvent extraction method.

Concerning methanol, although it can be produced from a

wide range of raw materials (namely, wood, dry biomass

in general, coal, etc.), at present, it is mainly obtained by

synthesis from natural gas or gasoline. The technology

for the production of methanol consists of “gasifying the

cellulosic raw material to obtain a synthesis gas followed

by the traditional processes used for fossil fuels whereby

the gas is purified and its composition is adjusted for the

synthesis of methanol”.

The final energy result is more positive when producing

methanol because ethanol is a high-cost, low-yield

product with problems derived from storage and effects

on soil. Also, methanol is less volatile, thereby less

dangerous in case of a traffic accident. Unexpected

combustion could be extinguished with water, it pollutes

less, it has no sulphur content, and it could be

transformed into a high octane gasoline that may be used

in countries not ready to employ engines that are fed

directly with methanol. That transformation implies a

cost, but it would not be excessive. However, the

problem with the production of methanol from biomass

remains the optimum size of the present manufacturing

units, which, having been designed for fossil fuels, are

not readily suitable for a very different raw material.


Obviously, the evolution of biofuel technologies depends

as much on economic opportunities and public policies as

on enhanced technological options. It is evident that

much of the advancement in technological capabilities in

India is supported by Department of Science and

Technology, Government of India under mission mode

projects supporting development of liquid fuel sources

from biomass.

Basically the biomass programme must have following

five components: 1) Energy R&D strategy, rational use

of energy, renewable energies, reduction of

environmental impacts of fossil fuels, and dissemination

of energy technologies. The energy strategy area includes

several sections ranging from global analysis of energy

R&D policy options to socioeconomic research in order

to understand those factors that foster or hinder the

innovation processes of energy technologies. Within this

strategy area, important studies on the future of biomass

energies, including liquid biofuels, are contemplated with

special emphasis on technology dissemination.

The rational use of energy area concerns energy

efficiency on the demand side of the energy sector. It

covers the reduction of energy consumption and

stimulating market penetration of innovative, efficient,

and clean technologies with a view to reducing

dependency on external supplies of energy products and

to improving the impact of the use of energy on the

environment. The area relative to renewable energies has

as its main objective to enable and stimulate the

introduction of renewable energies into the energy

system, which offer substantial advantages from an

environmental protection standpoint, CO

2 emissions, and

long-term security of energy supply. In addition, new

initiatives will be taken to enhance the integration of

renewable energies into the economy and society.

Included in this area are sections on the integration of

renewable technologies in social issues and research on

energies from biomass and waste.


It includes multi sectoral and interdisciplinary activities

focusing on three main objectives: first, to strengthen the

scientific base needed to implement the EU’s

environmental policy and permit it to reconcile the

notions of human health and safety, environmental

protection, and the sustainable management of resources


14th European Biomass Conference, 17-21 October 2005, Paris, France

with development and economic growth; second, to

contribute to world programs of research into global

change; third, to contribute to the development of

environmental technologies, techniques, products, and

services that meet new needs and could contribute to

sustainable economic growth. A number of R&D

possibilities for systemic factors pertinent to the future

evolution of biofuels production and utilization can be

provided by developing effective renewable energy




The program are the forestry and nonfood sectors of

agriculture and their links with the processing industries,

together with rural activities, the end-user, and the

consumer are very important for the renewable resource

development. Integrated production and processing

chains, and scaling-up and processing methodologies,

both dedicated principally to the nonfood sector and

especially to the use of plant raw materials for biomass

and bioenergy, such as timber, fibers, carbohydrates, oils,

proteins, and specialty chemicals contained in new and

traditional crops and trees are needed to be developed

intensively. . Included as the first section in the integrated

production and processing area are the chains. In

addition, the scaling-up processing methodologies refer

to biomass energy as well. Additional objectives are to

address the problems associated with the transfer of basic

or applied research and technology from the laboratory

level to the development steps of industrial scale.

Obviously, as underscored previously, this is of great

relevance for the future development of liquid fuels

derived from biological sources due to the fact that the

transfer step is normally characterized by major problems

and bottlenecks, such as a lack of homogeneity and

quality in the raw material supply and a lack of

understanding of the basic physical and chemical

characteristics and relationships of the biomaterials being

processed and produced. Problems such as

fluiddynamics, product recovery, heat transfer,

flocculation, and so on are common when applied and

basic research models are scaled up in the development

or pilot-scale phase of R&D.


Potential import demand of the EU for biofuels produced

in developing coutries like Tanzania, Nigeria Nicaragua

and India etc will be influenced very strongly by future

developments in concerned public policies.

To ensure further uses of biomass fuels and to exploit

fully their projected potential, a coordinated

multisectoral approach has been advocated. This should

provide an effective assessment of the interactions among

policies related to agriculture, energy, transport, and the

environment and, it is hoped, will avoid contradictory




The rise of world oil prices due to the 1973 and 1979 oil

crises stimulated the formulation and implementation of

new energy policies, so that new renewable energy

sources became attractive alternative fuels. The current

priority axes of the EU energy policy are and the same

could be adapted for India:

• to improve energy efficiency

• to secure energy supplies

• to protect the environment

• to push technological innovation

• to guarantee economic and social cohesion, and

• to develop international cooperation

These goals are similar to the ones set out by the

European Energy Charter : a pan-European forum, whose

goal was ‘‘to improve security of energy supply and to

maximize the efficiency of production, conversion,

transport, distribution and use of energy, to enhance

safety and to minimize environmental problems on an

acceptable economic basis.”

Security of energy supplies results not only from a

greater independence from foreign sources but also from

the replacement of gasoline by other kinds of energy as a

way to secure improved price stability and protection

from fluctuation of international energy shocks.

Diversification of energy sources and a higher percentage

of locally produced energy are goals that can be satisfied

by biofuels.


The inexhaustible nature of biofuels as an energy source

is also an important asset for their future potential from

the security standpoint. In contrast to fossil fuels, their

social acceptance will probably increase in the future

provided that some negative

possible impacts on the environment are avoided or

carefully kept under control.


One of the major themes concerning environment and

energy is the proposed directive of EU that establishes a

carbon tax on fossil oils in order to keep CO2 emissions

levels down. The final goal would be to maintain CO


atmospheric emissions in the year 2000 at the 1990 level,


2 being the main cause of the greenhouse effect.

Nevertheless, introduction of this regulation is facing

strong constraints since the EU’s competitiveness might

be reduced if similar steps are not taken by other Western

economies such as the USA and Japan (the USA has also

demonstrated a willingness to reduce its carbon dioxide

emissions from the use of fossil fuels).

The ALTENER program , which is the main initiative of

the EU to support renewable energy, sets three objectives

for renewable energy sources in Europe by 2005:

• increase the renewable energies market share from 4%

to 8% of EU primary energy needs;

• triple the production of renewable energy, excluding

large hydro schemes; • and secure a biofuels share of 5%

of total fuel consumption by motor vehicles.


14th European Biomass Conference, 17-21 October 2005, Paris, France

Nonetheless, even when considering optimistic

penetration rates such as the one quoted, biofuels cannot

solve the security supply problem, since fossil fuels will

continue to be the main energy source. Typical

ALTENER projects deal with breaking down barriers or

establishing new legal, administrative, organizational,

economic, or managerial systems.


A reduction in crop price predicted in accordance with

the long-term goal of meeting world prices implies a

decrease in crop costs that will surely improve bio fuel




In contrast to the European countries where set aside land

is used for biomass production the developing countries

have over millions of ha of wasteland which could be

effectively utilizd for cultivation of Energy crops. The

cultivation of biofuels could help rural and retarded

economies in two ways:

• The represent one additional possibility for the

utilization of farm resources, with the end result of

raising income and direct employment on the farm.

• The manufacturing and commercialization of fuel crops

need to be based on the rural communities and must

supplement their income.

Cultivating crops for energy use on wastelands provides

an opportunity to increase the demand for agricultural

commodities. This new income will surely improve the

material welfare of rural communities and might result in

a further activation of the local economy. In the end, this

will mean a reduction in emigration rates to urban

environments, also and help in environment protection.


Although European Commission has emphasized the,

need for change is discussed in terms of ‘‘sustainable’’

development, but there is little agreement on the concept

and on operating procedures and criteria. Appropriate

management is required on a global scale, which means

on national, regional, and community bases.

Since biofuels are crop based, soil depletion, effluents,

pesticide, and fertilizer consumption are also aspects to

be considered in any environmental assessment.

Cultivated feedstocks for biofuels share with agricultural

production a variety of shortcomings, usually criticized

by environmentalists. These include soil erosion,

occupational hazards, loss of ecosystems, excessive

fertilizer and pesticide use, monoculture production, and

the deterioration of landscapes. If biomass energy is used

instead of fossil fuels, however, there is normally a net

reduction in CO2 emissions. The extent of this reduction

depends on the fossil fuel displaced and the efficiency

with which the biomass energy can be produced, which

can be measured in terms of energy balances. A reduction

of 180 million tons in carbon emissions by the year 2005

could be achieved with a biofuels market penetration of

5% of the total consumption in combustion engines.

Sulphur dioxide is a major pollutant causing extensive

damage to forests, buildings, health, and so on.

Fortunately, SO2 emissions from using biomass energy

tend to be considerably lower because relevant plants and

trees contain only trace quantities of sulphur compared to

much higher emissions from coal, gasoline, and even

some natural gas. This drop in SO2 is accompanied by a

fall in the level of the other traditional motor pollutant

emissions such as carbon monoxide, unburned

hydrocarbons, and particulates, but these reductions are

less easily quantifiable. However, there is an increase in

the release of nitrogen oxides and aldehydes. There is no

clear advantage to any one of the liquid biofuels, and

choices between them will depend on local priorities. If

the aim is to move to lower intensity forms of land use,

wood production is likely to have significant advantages.

If emission abatement per hectare is a priority goal, the

liquid fuel with the greatest potential is ethanol from

sugar beets.


It may be concluded that biofuels may be able to

contribute to the attainment of a variety of environmental

objectives such as the aim of reducing both local air

pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and the

environmental concerns of maintaining agricultural land

in production with a possible move to lower intensity

production of crops. From an environmental point of viw,

however, blended fuels consist primarily of gasoline or

diesel fuel, which limits the potential benefits in both

emission control and efficiency .


(1) Kumar, A and A. Tewari, 2004.

Improving the Biofuel Utilization Efficiency in the Rural

Villages by Modifying the Fire Stove ‘Chulha’.

Proceedings of the 2

nd World Biomass Conference -

Biomass for Energy, Industry and Climate Protection,

Vol II, 2544-2547.

(2) Kumar, A and A. Kotiya, 2004.

Some Potential Plants for Bio-energy. Proceedings of the


nd World Biomass Conference - Biomass for Energy,

Industry and Climate Protection, Vol I, 180-183.


14th European Biomass Conference, 17-21 October 2005, Paris, France