Biomass is a term used in several contexts: in the context of ecology it means living organisms,[1] and in the context of bioenergy it means matter from recently living (but now dead) organisms. In the latter context, there are variations in how biomass is defined, e.g. only from plants,[2] or from plants and algae,[3] or from plants and animals.[4] The vast majority of biomass used for bioenergy does come from plants. Bioenergy is a type of renewable energy with potential to assist with climate change mitigation.[5]

Uses in different contexts


  • Biomass (ecology), the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time. This can be the biomass of particular species or the biomass of a particular community or habitat.



Biomass is also used as a term for the mass of microorganisms that are used to produce industrial products like enzymes and medicines.


Examples of emerging bioproducts or biobased products include biofuels, bioenergy, biochar, starch-based and cellulose-based ethanol, bio-based adhesives, biochemicals, bioplastics, etc.

Biological wastewater treatment

In biological wastewater treatment processes, such as the activated sludge process, the term "biomass" is used to denote the mass of bacteria and other microorganisms that break down pollutants in wastewater.[6]:243 The biomass forms part of sewage sludge.


  • Biomass (satellite) - an Earth observation satellite


  1. Houghton, R. A. (2008-01-01), Jørgensen, Sven Erik; Fath, Brian D. (eds.), "Biomass", Encyclopedia of Ecology, Oxford: Academic Press, pp. 448–453, ISBN 978-0-08-045405-4, retrieved 2023-01-13
  2. "Bioenergy – Analysis". IEA. Retrieved 2023-01-13.
  3. "Bioenergy Basics". Retrieved 2023-01-13.
  4. "Biomass explained - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". Retrieved 2023-01-13.
  5. "Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" (PDF). IPCC. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-04-12.
  6. Von Sperling, M. (2015). "Wastewater Characteristics, Treatment and Disposal". Water Intelligence Online. 6: 9781780402086. doi:10.2166/9781780402086. ISSN 1476-1777.
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