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Project at a Glance

Contents on the CD Rom

General facts
  • “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.

Monitoring

  • Some of the gases produced by landfills are hazardous and monitoring techniques have been developed.
  • 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 gas-to-energy projects.
  • 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 electricity.
  • 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 Protection Agency.
  • 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 energy source.
  • 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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