A biomass plant technician is an person who is employed by a biomass plant, which produces renewable energy from plant matter or animal matter. The matter is primarily used to generate electricity. However, the biomass material that is created from the plant matter can either be used directly or converted into biofuel. Examples of plant matter used in this process include branches that have fallen off trees, dead trees, wood chips, tree stumps and yard clippings. Some biomass plants grow their own plants to convert into biofuel, including hemp, corn, willow, sugarcane and eucalyptus.
Biomass plant technicians have a variety of responsibilities during this complicated process. However, the technicians most important daily responsibility is to ensure safety by controlling and monitoring daily activities.
Usually, this individual works as a part of a team that is supervised by a biologist. Each member of the team is generally assigned one or two responsibilities during a particular shift. These responsibilities can include calculating, measuring, loading, mixing and processing refined feedstock. This is done by mixing additives in the fermentation process.
Another important aspect of this job is to keep and maintain records. The types of records that these technicians keep include records of plant maintenance, safety inspections, and repairs that need to be made or have been made.
If technicians notice any problems while doing inspections, it is their job to troubleshoot the problems if possible. If it is not possible to fix a problem, it is the technician's responsibility to have the problem scheduled for repair.
The minimum educational requirement to become a biomass plant technician is a bachelor's degree in biology or a closely related field. In addition to the degree, biomass plant technicians also need a strong educational background in math, computer science, chemistry and physics. It is recommended that any biomass plant technician applicant has at least two years experience working in a laboratory before applying.
In addition to the minimum educational requirements and the laboratory experience, there are several personality traits that best prepare a person for a career as a biomass plant technician, which include critical thinking skills, observational skills, writing skills, analytical skills, listening skills and technical skills. These skills are important because it is essential that a technician in this occupation can keep records that are precise and correct and be able to draw conclusions from research using sound reasoning. Technical skills are especially important because technicians must work with very advanced equipment.
During routine inspections, biomass plant technicians inspect test results, make any needed adjustments or repairs to specialized equipment, check all electrical components of the equipment, and record all pneumatic instrument readings that are used to show productivity. Biomass plant technicians are trained to troubleshoot most problems, and to recognize problems that need to be outsourced to professional repairmen.
Often, a job as a biomass plant technician is a stepping stone to a more prestigious career in this field. It is possible for people who are looking to be promoted to the position of head biologist or head scientist to use this job as work experience for another career in biology.
It is also important to realize the biomass plant technology was first introduced only in the 1990s, so it is still a relatively young concept. As the process gains more notoriety and success, related careers will prosper and there will be more jobs available for biomass plant technicians.
With only a few exceptions, biomass plant technicians work in biomass plants. However, there are many biomass plants all over the world, so people considering this occupation can choose from various locations around the world. The United States has several biomass plants in many states including New York, California and Florida. Worldwide, biomass plants can be found in Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Chile and Brazil. No matter where the plant is located, biomass plant technicians will work in a small team, usually under the supervision of a biologist.
The only exceptions to technicians working in biomass plants are the technicians who work in colleges and universities throughout the world. Biomass energy production is a relatively new process, so there are very few people with the expert knowledge to train other biomass technicians. As the area grows, there will be more opportunities for biomass plant technicians to work outside of the plants, in colleges and universities.
Since the hours of a biomass plant technician are generally regular working hours, it is possible for biomass plant technicians to continue their education while working at the plant. This is ideal for people who would like to work on a graduate degree in biology to further their careers.