Category: Landfills

I came across an article on how biomethane from various organic wastes is being tapped on the local scale in rural China and on the municipal scale in Beijing.

Beginning in 2000, the Agricultural Ministry of China has fostered sustainable development by promoting integrated biogas technologies with the goals of protecting ecology and the environment while also increasing farmers’ income. Full-scale projects have been implemented in over 1000 rural counties.

Construction is based on the family unit and is coupled with educational guidance on how to eliminate inefficient crop production practices, and to effectively utilize land, solar energy and biological resources. Rural methane power generation is the most significant piece of this energy-revolution program.

Structural improvements to toilets and animal sheds allow for the collection of human and animal wastes, rice straw and daily trash which serves as the raw material to generate methane. Methane ranges and cook stoves, heating and lighting fixtures powered by home-grown methane do not emit smoke and dust, thus eliminating health hazards often associated with burning raw waste materials or coal.

The liquid and solid remains after the fuel is siphoned off serves as fertilizer to enrich the soil, prevent plant diseases and control pests. Completing the natural cycle by returning materials to the earth in this way increases crop production and eliminates costs of fertilizers and pesticides. It also helps to build the rural economy.

Methane power generation has also been extended into cities in China. Methane is now being collected from the Asuwei Landfill in the Changping District of Beijing and used to generate power. This is the first city landfill methane in Northern China. Not only is it generating useful electricity, it is helping to eliminate odor problems and resolving safety concerns posed by methane emissions from decomposing organic wastes. While improving the environment in surrounding areas, this project is also providing enough electrical power to serve 17,000 families for one year in Beijing!


Biofuels from Trash!

The remains of plants processed for human purposes molder in landfills across the world. Whether waste paper or raked leaves, the plant remnants still contain cellulose, a sugar in greenery that bonds with the chemical compound lignin to furnish a plant’s structure. Microbes living in the landfills break down this cellulose into methane, which slowly seeps to the surface and into the atmosphere, where it is a potent greenhouse gas. BlueFire Ethanol, Inc., in Irvine, Calif., would rather harvest that energy for use as cellulosic ethanol fuel.

“We produce 70 gallons of ethanol per ton of waste,” says engineer Arnold Klann, BlueFire’s president and CEO. “The trick is unlocking the sugar molecule from the lignin, which is the glue that holds it together.”

BlueFire estimates 40 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol could be produced from plant waste destined for the landfill, providing as much as one third of all U.S. transportation fuel needs. And, if other forms of waste, such as the stalks of corn plants (corn stover) or the remnants of timber harvest are included, Klann says, “we have enough feedstock in the U.S. to offset 70 percent of the oil import.”


Trash to RNG in Michigan

Landfill Gas to Renewable Natural Gas Project in Michigan

Burnaby B.C., May 5th 2011 – Greenlane Biogas, a subsidiary of the Flotech Group of companies (founded in 1986), is pleased to confirm that it recently has received an order to build two ‘Totara+’ landfill gas upgrading systems to process 3200 scfm (approximately 5150 Nm3/hr) of gas to be injected into a local natural gas pipeline near Detroit Michigan.

Greenlane Biogas, a developer and supplier of proprietary water scrubbing technology which removes impurities such and carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and trace contaminants from landfill gas to convert it to a high methane purity renewable fuel, is supplying the systems to Canton Renewables, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., based out of Seal Beach, California.

more information:

Landfill Methane Outreach Program

The U.S. EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) is a voluntary assistance program that helps to reduce methane emissions from landfills by encouraging the recovery and use of landfill gas (LFG) as an energy resource. LMOP forms partnerships with communities, landfill owners, utilities, power marketers, states, project developers, tribes, and nonprofit organizations to overcome barriers to project development by helping them assess project feasibility, find financing, and market the benefits of project development to the community. EPA launched LMOP to encourage productive use of this resource as part of the United States’ commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

LMOP provides services such as:

  • Technical assistance, guidance materials, and software to assess a potential project’s economic feasibility.
  • Assistance in creating partnerships and locating financing for projects.
  • Informational materials to help educate the community and the local media about the benefits of LFG energy.
  • Networking opportunities with peers and LFG energy experts to allow communities to share challenges and successes.

More information:

Landfills: sources of energy

Found a good PowerPoint presentation from the Waste-to-Wheels Conference held Nov-Dec 2010 in Ohio. It focuses on harvesting biomethane from the 50-65% of landfill materials that are organic, and converting it to fuel for transport.

Check it out!

Next time you buy something, think about what will become of it when you have to throw it away!

California Biomethane Grants

12 July 2011

The Green Car Congress reports that the California Energy Commission has awarded four grants for projects for biomethane production from several organic waste sources. The biomethane produced from dairy and food processing, municipal and landfill operations will fuel various transportation systems.

The awards have been funded through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (AB 118).

Biostar Systems ($3,372,314 – Match Share $3,372,314) . BioStar Systems is partnering with Sonoma County Water Agency and Sonoma County Transit to produce 148,000 cubic feet per day of pipeline quality biomethane from dairy waste and food processor waste to support the Sonoma County Transit natural gas fleet. This facility will reduce waste transportation costs for Sonoma County’s food industry by an estimated $120,000 per year and cut greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 35,200 tons per year.

CR&R, Inc. ($4,520,501 – Match Share $18,166,460) CR&R estimates that this project planned for the City of Perris in Riverside County will produce 120,000 million BTUs of pipeline quality biomethane from nonrecyclable municipal waste using a two-stage anaerobic digestion process. This project would displace the equivalent of 865,000 gallons of diesel, enough to power 60 to 80 heavy duty trash recycling trucks, and reduce an estimated 57,740 tons of carbon dioxide between 2013 and 2020.

Pixley Biogas ($4,672,798 – Match Share $4,910,925). Pixley Biogas intends to build an anaerobic digestion facility in the community of Pixley (Tulare County) that will process more than 36 million gallons of manure from three nearby dairies and produce biogas to be used at the adjacent Calgren Renewable Fuels ethanol biorefinery. The carbon dioxide reductions combined with the avoided manure emissions are estimated to be more than 31,000 metric tons per year.

High Mountain Fuels ($11,020,419 – Match share $11,020,419). High Mountain Fuels intends to convert renewable landfill biomethane to liquefied natural gas for use as transportation fuel at the Simi Valley landfill facility in Ventura County. The project would demonstrate improved gas separation technology that uses new combinations of materials to provide better power efficiency and improved methane recovery than at other facilities. The project anticipates producing almost 6 million gallons of LNG each year to fuel the company’s waste hauling trucks, displacing 3.4 million gallons of diesel fuel.

The last three projects will be completed in two phases: administration/design (Phase 1) and construction/operation (Phase 2). The second phase will not begin unless the Commission approves the second phase after completing a thorough environmental analysis of the project.


NY landfill sells electricity to grid

An article in Jamestown’s Post-Journal reported that two more engines will be added to generate electricity from methane collected at the Ellery Landfill near Mayville, NY.  The landfill is already operating four engines to generate electricity. Each engine generates 1.6 megawatts, and the electricity produced is put on the  grid for sale. The county expects a $1 million profit margin in 2011, after the fifth engine comes onstream.

For more information, see:

Augusta landfill to fuel truck fleet!

The Augusta Chronicle has reported that the Augusta landfill is producing more natural gas than it can sell. So it has developed a $20 million plan to convert excess biogas to compressed natural gas. This fuel will be used to power the landfill’s fleet of trucks, and may be expanded to provide fuel to additional public vehicle fleets, buildings, and other applications.

The landfill has been selling compressed biogas to a nearby kaolin mine since 1996.  But the landfill is producing excess capacity that is currently being flared off as waste.

In March 2010, a  city committee agreed to issue $20 million in bonds to fund the project. It also agreed to require the waste hauler to use compressed natural gas (CNG) as fuel, averting costs to upgrade the vehicle fleet.

CNG is cleaner than diesel. It produces less soot, and 29% less greenhouse gas, the article states.

A high BTU process for refining the biogas will be installed. A Southern Natural Gas pipeline already runs near the landfill, and natural gas companies are also interested in buying  CNG from the landfill.  CNG cannot be stored, so there are plans to route excess CNG production  into the SNG pipeline.


Trash, Inc.

CNBC produced a special called Trash, Inc.: The Secret Life Of Garbage. It’s all about trash in modern society: how much there is, where it goes, and what happens to it when it gets there. There’s too much of it – no question about that! In the US, about one ton of trash is generated for each person every year, and about half of it ends up in landfills. There are about 2300 landfills across the US right now and some areas have no more space for their trash. So tons of trash are being shipped by truck, train and barge to more remote locations.

All landfills produce methane as trash decomposes.  A lot of landfills burn off the methane to prevent it from becoming a hazard but some landfills are now collecting the methane and making it available for commercial use.   At least that way, something useful comes from the growing mountains of trash!

The Palmetto Landfill in South Carolina is one facility that is extracting its methane gas and piping it to a production facility where it is cleaned and processed. Then it travels on down the pipeline about ten miles to a BMW production facility. It is saving the BMW facility at least $1 million a year!

Waste Management is another company investing in waste-to-energy plants in the US and around the world. They have already saved about 150 million barrels of oil by harvesting methane from waste and burning it to produce electricity.

How many landfills are harvesting biomethane for productive energy? Hmmm …  I’ll see if I can find that out for y’all!

In the meantime, you might want to check out the CNBC website about Trash, Inc.: The Secret Life of Garbage!|trashinc|&par=vty

From the US EPA’s LMOP website:

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) is a voluntary assistance program that helps to reduce methane emissions from landfills by encouraging the recovery and beneficial use of landfill gas (LFG) as an energy resource. LFG contains methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can be captured and used to fuel power plants, manufacturing facilities, vehicles, homes, and more. By joining LMOP, companies, state agencies, organizations, landfills, and communities gain access to a vast network of industry experts and practitioners, as well as to various technical and marketing resources that can help with LFG energy project development.”

Among the largest projects sponsored by the EPA’s LMOP is taking place at the McCommas Bluff Landfill in Dallas, Texas. Media reports on the project state that, under the agreement signed by its owner Clean Energy Fuels Corp. in April 2009, the landfill will supply between 4,500 and 6000 MMBTUs per day through March 2024. The natural gas is being purchased by Shell Energy North America, and transported by Atmos Energy Corp.  to provide fuel for electric utilities and vehicle fleets.

For more information on the US EPA’s LMOP, see:

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