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Biomass is organic non-fossil material, collectively. For example, plants (including trees) and animals are biomass, as are the materials they produce, such as animal droppings and wood. The most successful animal of the earth, in terms of biomass, is the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, with a biomass of probably over 500 million tonnes, roughly twice the total biomass of humans.

Biomass is sometimes burned as fuel for cooking and to produce electricity and heat. This is called Biofuel. Biomass used as fuel often consists of underutilized types, like chaff and animal waste. This is often considered a type of alternative energy although it is a polluting one. Paradoxically, in some industrialized countries like Germany, food is cheaper than fuel compared by price per joule. Central heating units supplied by food grade wheat or maize are available.

It is also the dried organic mass of a ecosystem. As the trophic level increases, the biomass of each trophic level decreases. That is, producers (grass, trees, scrubs, etc.) will have a much higher biomass than animals that consume the producers (deer, zebras, insects, etc.). The level with the least biomass will be the highest predators in the food chain (foxes, eagles, etc.)

Types of high volume industrial biomass

See also

Last updated: 07-30-2005 17:57:06
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