Here I am again, filling up my gas guzzling, V-8 engine SUV. While my Jeep is slowly filling up, the dollar amount is quickly going up. As I rolled my eyes at the pump, I looked up at the flat screen television above my head. CNN was broadcasting a report on the new number of unemployed individuals in the U.S. Close to 14 million individuals are without a job. I couldn’t help but ask myself what was the cause of this, and how can it be fixed? I began to reflect on how many jobs, services, and items America has outsourced. Then it hit me. America could possibly open up new jobs and lower fuel cost by converting biomass to energy. Researchers have found a way to save our economy by bringing down energy costs and opening up hundreds of thousands of jobs across the nation, thus boosting America’s economy. The key is in corn and other natural biomass wasted.
Corn, and other biomass, may be used to help America’s economy by serving as an alternative energy source and by keeping resources in America. Many people ask themselves, “What exactly is biomass?” Biomass is defined as “organic matter, especially plant matter that can be converted to fuel and is therefore regarded as a potential energy source.” Some examples of biomass include wood, wastes, crops, and aquatic plants. In most cases, left over corn stalks would be the perfect solution to not only create energy, but secure the profits and work of many farmers. According to the U.S. EPA, “ The United States is, by far, the largest producer of corn in the world. Corn is grown on over 400,000 U.S. farms.” With that, farmers’ won’t have to fear profit loses if they do not sell all of their crops. Left over crops and stalks could be recycled and converted into energy creating a huge economy boost for America. Not only that, America could also become the leading supplier of corn to other countries that may be joining the natural fuel band wagon.
There are different ways biomass can be converted into energy: thermal, thermo -chemical, and biochemical, most commonly used to fuel our vehicles. However, it can also be used to generate electricity. Though the United States participates in using partial biomass for fuel, we really must expand our research and begin to use biomass for heating our homes, driving our vehicles, and generating electricity.
Thermal energy is the most common way biomass is burned. If this way is used directly, the biomass can be used to create heat to warm a house or even to cook. Another simple way we could effectively warm our homes is by using corn. Using corn as a heating source works pretty easy and is energy efficient. A special biomass burner must be installed in the home in order for proper heating. Burners that are compatible for burning corn, can also burn wood pellets, and other dried biomass. This burner does not work 100% on its own, and it does require small amounts of electricity. This corn-burning furnace has a special hopper that is connected to the side of the main area of the stove. The hopper is full of dry corn in which an auger consistently drops the corn kernels into the firebox. After the kernels reach the firebox, a small propelling fan sends oxygen into the firebox to keep the flame burning. A larger fan then blows the heat the stove created into the rooms of the house. Almost all models come with a thermostat to allow the home owner to monitor the temperature of the corn, or to control the speed the auger pours the corn in the firebox. “Because corn is a clean-burning fuel, these burners require very little maintenance.” Though maintenance is low, a yearly inspection of the burner is required with most manufacturers. A yearly inspection sounds costly for the owner, though it is not due to the amount of savings the owner will experience throughout the year. Having mandatory yearly inspections will also boost our economy by opening up more jobs and decreasing the