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Plants and Energy Sources

PLANTS AND ENERGY SOURCES


Read the following text at home. Be sure you understand the
COMPLETE TEXT; if not, ask questions to the teacher.
Then, underline or highlight the FIVE main ideas in the text (BE
SURE YOU INCLUDE THE IDEAS IN BOLD LETTERS).
INTRODUCTION.
As it is known, there are two types of resources for humans which are:
renewable and non-renewable energy sources. An energy can be called
renewable when it fulfils the following characteristics: infinite quantities (for
example: the sun) or easily replaced (for example: wood), they do not
produce greenhouse effect gases and they do not pollute the
environment.

Some examples of renewable energy sources are solar

energy, wind energy, the energy of moving water or biomass. Renewable


energy can be transformed to electricity to use at home.
The opposite are non-renewable energy sources because they are not
infinite, cannot be replaced and damage the environment. Fossil fuels
(petroleum or coal) are the main example of non-renewable energy
sources.
The text is going to focus in one specific example of renewable energy
sources: biomass. Biomass is the energy stored in living things, generally
plants. A classic example of biomass is burning wood to get heat. Some
modern examples of the uses of biomass are using plants to produce
ethanol and biodiesel. They are not perfect fuels but offer an alternative
to fossil fuels.
One of the problems of getting energy from biomass is
that it is more expensive compared to fossil fuels.
However, from all the renewable energy sources used in
Spain, nearly half (45%) corresponds to biomass.

Plants and Energy Sources

PLANTS AND ENERGY SOURCES


Read the following text at home. Be sure you understand the
COMPLETE TEXT; if not, ask questions to the teacher.
Then, underline or highlight the FIVE main ideas in the text (BE
SURE YOU INCLUDE THE IDEAS IN BOLD LETTERS).
BIOMASS - LECTURE 1
The general definition of biomass refers to all the living matter in the planet.
However, there is a second and more important definition: biomass is the
energy stored in living plants. This energy is kept in plants because they
carry out photosynthesis and can capture sun energy to transform it into
energy inside plants. This biomass can be used in many ways: to power a
human body when eating vegetables, to make vehicles work, to heat
houses or to make electricity.
There are many different types of biomass that can be classified in two
categories: woody and non-woody. The main difference between woody
and non-woody is that the first type needs more time to grow.
Furthermore, non-woody biomass needs to be transformed to be used.
As it has been said, the general classification of biomass is woody and
non-woody. However, there are different examples of both categories.
Woody biomass includes trees like coconut (to produce biomass the tree
is burnt and leaves little residues), palm trees, poplar and pine (it is easy,
fast and cheap to grow). On the contrary, there are also examples of nonwoody biomass such as: corn, grasses, soybean and sugar cane. Algae,
which are not plants, are also able to produce biomass and are most of
the times included into the non-woody
category biomass.

Plants and Energy Sources

PLANTS AND ENERGY SOURCES


Read the following text at home. Be sure you understand the
COMPLETE TEXT; if not, ask questions to the teacher.
Then, underline or highlight the FIVE main ideas in the text (BE
SURE YOU INCLUDE THE IDEAS IN BOLD LETTERS).
BIOMASS - LECTURE 2
Biomass is the term used to refer to all the living things in a place. Every
year, it is calculated that approximately 146 billion tons of biomass are
generated on our planet. The majority of the biomass is produced by plant
growth.
However, there is a second and more important definition of biomass: it is
the biological material that comes from a living organism or recently living
organism. Most of the times those living organisms that produce biomass
are plants.
Many people might think that the discovery of using biomass is recent but
it is not. For example, wood is considered biomass and it can be burned
to produce heat and do work (cook, move machines). Burning wood
has been used for many centuries so biomass use is very old. Even in this
century, wood continues to be burned to produce heat; but wood is
expensive so it is being replaced by other forms of producing heat like
electricity or natural gas.
One of the main advantages of using biomass is that it reduces the
emissions of greenhouse effect gases compared to fossil fuels. But it has to
be mentioned that in order to reduce the
emissions biomass has to be cultivated in not
previously cultivated land.

Plants and Energy Sources

PLANTS AND ENERGY SOURCES


Read the following text at home. Be sure you understand the
COMPLETE TEXT; if not, ask questions to the teacher.
Then, underline or highlight the FIVE main ideas in the text (BE
SURE YOU INCLUDE THE IDEAS IN BOLD LETTERS).
BIOFUELS - LECTURE 1
Petroleum is the main fuel that makes our cars work at the moment.
However, it is a non-renewable energy source and it will finish someday.
For that reason, scientists are investigating to discover fuels that can
replace petroleum and at the same time, are renewable. That is the case
of the fuels called biofuels, produced using different types of crops from
plants.
Biofuels have both advantages and disadvantages. One of the
advantages has already been mentioned: biofuels can replace
petroleum. Another benefit of using biofuels is that they reduce the
greenhouse effect emissions. But there are also drawbacks: biofuels are
expensive to produce and difficult to sell.
There are two types of biofuels discovered: ethanol fuel and biodiesel. This
text is only going to speak about ethanol fuel. Ethanol fuel is produced by
extracting the sugar grains of plants to transform them into alcohol. The
plants used to produce ethanol fuel are sugar cane, corn, wheat and
grass. Some countries like Brazil have an abundant
supply of these plants; as a consequence, cars can work
using only ethanol fuel. In other countries, ethanol fuel is
mixed with gasoline.

Plants and Energy Sources

PLANTS AND ENERGY SOURCES


Read the following text at home. Be sure you understand the
COMPLETE TEXT; if not, ask questions to the teacher.
Then, underline or highlight the FIVE main ideas in the text (BE
SURE YOU INCLUDE THE IDEAS IN BOLD LETTERS).
BIOFUELS - LECTURE 2
In order to replace the fossil fuels (gasoline, diesel fuel and coal), biofuels
were created. Biofuels are produced using plants. Biofuels are considered
renewable energy sources because they are easy and quick to produce
and will never finish under normal conditions. At the same time, biofuels
are better for the air quality and pollute less. However one of the problems
of biofuels is that, to create them, deforestation is increased.
There are two main types of biofuels: ethanol fuel and biodiesel. In this text,
only biodiesel is going to be explained. Biodiesel is produced using plants
that contain high quantities of fat such as soybeans or vegetable oil; but
other organisms such as algae can be used to produce biodiesel.
Pure biodiesel (100% of biodiesel) can be used to make some engines
work. However, it is common to mix biodiesel with petroleum diesel (20%
of biodiesel and 80% of petroleum diesel). One of the problems is that it is
usually very difficult to find petrol stations that offer the option of biodiesel.
One of the solutions for this is to produce biodiesel at home: vegetable oil
and to buy some more chemicals for it.
To conclude, biodiesel is one of the discoveries that has been made to try
to reduce the use of non-renewable energy sources in the planet.