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Biomass is a quantity of biological matter. The term can be used many ways, either limited, such as plant or animal material to be used as fuel, or more widely as the entire mass of living biological entities in a given area. On Mars, the biomass in a settlement would include all plants, animals, and humans living within its confines. The term can also be used for the part of a plant that is not consumed as food for humans, and can be returned to the environment, used for animal feed or for industrial feed.

Origin and Growth

Initial biomass must be imported from Earth, and is limited to the interior of settlements. Once a self-sustaining ecosystem is established within a settlement, the net biomass can increase naturally through the utilization of Martian resources. Biomass contains embodied energy, which distinguishes it from unprocessed mineral matter. Processed minerals and mineral products also contain embodied energy, from their preparation. Growing the quantity of biomass consumes energy, e.g. through photosynthesis and use of agricultural equipment. Biomass stores some of the energy used to produce it chemical form, in components such as carbohydrates or proteins.

Biomass is generated in a settlement by plants and bacteria, mainly, but not exclusively, through photosynthesis. Feedstock for the biomass may be obtained naturally or through industrial processes such as CO2, oxygen, methane and nitrogen production.

Waste Biomass

Main article: waste biomass recycling

All living organisms generate waste products, and eventually their dead remains. This waste must is either recycled back into the ecosystem or use as industrial feedstock so that no resources are wasted. Even human remains, following a funeral should be recycled, but this may be done more or less indirectly.