Biomass, which is made from waste plant or animal material, can be burned to produce heat and electricity. Biomass, in the form of sewage, is turned into dried pellets which are burned with coal in a power station to produce heat. The heat produces steam to power electricity generators.

Biomass is a clean fuel and uses waste products; however, it costs money to transport and is as expensive as coal. Biomass pellets and wood chips are also burned locally to produce heat for a swimming pool.

First broadcast:
6 October 2008

Students could draw flow charts, like the one featured in this clip, to track the process of turning biomass into electricity.

What are the benefits and limitations of using biofuel? Students could write a table to describe these aspects of biofuel, going on to compare them to renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar energy. A class debate could ensue to suggest the best way to heat and power the school. Alternatively the students could design a poster advertising the fuel which they think is the most effective energy source.