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Conversion technologies
There are a number of technological options available to make use of a wide variety of biomass types as a renewable energy source. Conversion technologies may release the energy directly, in the form of heat or electricity, or may convert it to another form, such as liquid biofuel or combustible biogas. While for some classes of biomass resource there may be a number of usage options, for others there may only one appropriate technology.
Thermal conversion
These are processes in which heat is the dominant mechanism to convert the biomass into another chemical form. The basic alternatives are separated principally by the extent to which the chemical reactions involved are allowed to proceed:
Combustion
Gasification
Pyrolysis
There are a number of other less common, more experimental or proprietary thermal processes that may offer benefits such as hydrothermal upgrading (HTU) and hydroprocessing.  Some have been developed for use on high moisture content biomass, including aqueous slurries, and allow them to be converted into more convenient forms.
Other thermal conversion processes
Applications of thermal conversion:
Combined heat and power (CHP)
Co-firing
Chemical conversion

A range of chemical processes may be used to convert biomass into other forms, such as to produce a fuel that is more conveniently used, transported or stored, or to exploit some property of the process itself.

Biochemical conversion

As biomass is a natural material, many highly efficient biochemical processes have developed in nature to break down the molecules of which biomass is composed, and many of these biochemical conversion processes can be harnessed.

Biochemical conversion makes use of the enzymes of bacteria and other micro-organisms to break down biomass. In most cases micro-organisms are used to perform the conversion process:

Anaerobic digestion
Fermentation
Composting

Other chemical processes

Converting straight and waste vegetable oils into biodiesel:

Transesterification