Biomass: Generating Energy from Olive Pits

Coffee grounds, olive pits, grape stalks, rice and barley husks, pulp – all of these by-products can be burned to generate heat, electricity, biogas and biofuel.

Did you know that Micanthus – l also known as “elephant grass” – has a higher energy yield than the same volume of coal? Or that olive pits have a greater heating capacity than diesel? During combustion, a hectare of grain releases as much energy as 4,500 liters of heating oil. Some organic matter reveals incredible energy potential when burned.

Using special recovery processes, this biomass can be transformed to produce heat, electricity, biogas and biofuel. It is now the world’s leading source of renewable energy.

Although most biomass comes from wood and wood by-products, many other surprising – or downright unusual – waste products, including grape stalks, rice and barley husks, pulp and sludge, are also used. Sara Lee’s coffee production plant in Joure, in the Netherlands, dries and burns coffee grounds to produce heat for use in its production process. At its site in Tangier, Morocco, Renault uses boiler rooms fuelled by olive pits to supply its brand new carbon-free plant with hot water.Biomass is a fast-developing and inexhaustible source of green energy. For manufacturers, it’s a great way to recover their waste and develop industrial ecology initiatives, while local authorities can use it to turn agricultural and industrial organic waste into energy. It also reduces the carbon footprint of our businesses and cities, makes their facilities more self-reliant, efficient and economical, and provides our homes with heating and our cars with biofuels. It even creates local jobs! There’s no doubt about it – we can read the future in the coffee grounds.
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