- “Landfill gas” is not the
same as “natural gas” or “methane.” They are three separate terms that
mean different things. The term "landfill methane" is deceiving as it
implies that landfill gas is simply methane.
- By finding ways of
harnessing gases which are released as waste and trash breaks down, the
renewable sources of energy will begin to change the way the world
operates, using less fossil fuel and less energy, creating a more
sustainable living system.
- Since 1983, landfill gas
recovery technologies (a mouthful, I know) have been refined, yet the
basic premise has not changed. Prior to a landfill being retired and
buried, a system of pipelines are installed to siphon natural gases from
the material present.
- A study of women living
near 38 New York landfills where gas is escaping found a significant
four-fold increased risk of bladder cancer and leukemia.
- Some of the gases produced
by landfills are hazardous and monitoring techniques have been
- Flame ionization detectors
can be used to measure methane levels as well as total VOC levels.
Surface monitoring and sub-surface monitoring as well as monitoring of
the ambient air is carried out.
- Under the Clean Air Act of
1996, it is required that many large landfills install gas
collection and control systems, which means that at the very least the
facilities must collect and flare the gas.
- The Environmental
Protection Agency estimates that another 600 landfills could support gas
to energy projects.
- The Environmental
Protection Agency has also established the Landfill Methane Outreach
Program. This program was developed to reduce methane emissions
from landfills in a cost- effective manner by encouraging the
development of environmentally and economically beneficial landfill
- Landfill owners and
operators must make sure the concentration of methane gas does not
exceed 25% of the EL for methane in the facilities' structures and the
LEL for methane at the facility boundary.
Landfill gas use
- The gases produced within
the landfill can be collected and flared off or used to produce heat or
- The City of Sioux Falls,
South Dakota installed a landfill gas collection system which collects,
cools, dries, and compresses the gas into an 11-mile pipeline.
- The gas is then used to
power an ethanol plant operated by POET Biorefining.
- The number of landfill gas
projects, which convert the methane gas that is emitted from decomposing
garbage into power, went from three hundred and ninety nine in 2005, to
five hundred and nineteen in 2009 according to the Environmental
- These projects are popular
because they control energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
These projects collect the methane gas (which is released with twenty
times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide) and treat it so it
can be used for electricity or upgraded to pipeline-grade gas.
- These projects power
homes, buildings, and vehicles. Waste Management uses landfill gas as an
- Their landfill
gas-to-energy projects create enough energy to power four hundred
thousand homes every day. This energy production offsets almost two
million tons of coal per year.
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