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What is biomass? Explain the principle and working of a biogas plant using a labelled schematic diagram.

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Sources of fuel obtaining from organic material is call as biomass. 

Cow-dung, various plant materials like the residue after harvesting the crops, vegetable waste and sewage are decomposed in the absence of oxygen to give bio-gas. 

  • The plant has a dome-like structure built with bricks. 
  • A slurry of cow-dung and water is made in the mixing tank from where it is fed into the digester. 
  • The digester is a sealed chamber in which there is no oxygen. 
  • Anaerobic micro-organisms that do not require oxygen decompose or break down complex compounds of the cow-dung slurry. 
  • It takes a few days for the decomposition process to be complete and generate gases like methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide.
  • The bio-gas is stored in the gas tank above the digester from which they are drawn through pipes for use.
  • Bio-gas is an excellent fuel as it contains up to 75% methane. 
  • It burns without smoke, leaves no residue like ash in wood, charcoal and coal burning. 
  • Its heating capacity is high. Bio-gas is also used for lighting. 
  • The slurry left behind is removed periodically and used as excellent manure, rich in nitrogen and phosphorous. 
  • The large-scale utilisation of bio-waste and sewage material provides a safe and efficient method of waste-disposal besides supplying energy and manure.

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