Creating Energy from Landfill Gas Is Far From Myth

Video profile of University of New Hampshire Ecoline™ project. Video credit:UNH and Waste Management.

The beginning of a new decade
reminds us to also look back at the past 10 years to see how everything from
daily tasks to new technologies have evolved. Back in 2000, the thought of
using our garbage to produce renewable energy was barely a blip on the radar.
In fact, it was only two years ago that Waste Management became the first in
its industry to partner with landfill owners to develop landfill gas-to-energy
(LFGTE) projects, breaking group on a LFGTE facility near Syracuse, New York.

To recognize the growing presence and influence of LFGTE projects throughout the country, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), a voluntary initiative to encourage the capture and use of landfill gas to create potential energy sources. Landfills contain organic waste, such as food and paper that decompose over time. The gas emitted during this process contains methane, a potent
greenhouse gas that is beneficial to fueling vehicles, manufacturing plants and

At its annual LMOP Conference and Project Expo, the EPA and several LMOP partners that showed "excellence in innovation and creativity, success in promoting project development, and achieving environmental and economic benefits" for their LFGTE projects. Among the 2009 Projects of the Year announced at this year's conference were two Waste Management-backed initiatives - the University of New Hampshire in Rochester, NH and the Altamont Landfill Resource and Recovery Facility in Livermore, CA.

Here's some background on the two LFGTE projects:
UNH EcoLine™
The University of New Hampshire is among the first colleges in the nation to use landfill gas to provide energy campus-wide. Through its EcoLine project, the school receives methane that has been converted from waste collected at Waste Management's Turnkey Landfill in Rochester, NH, generating both electricity and heat for their five million
square foot campus.

Previously, the university was powered by natural gas, but with rising prices over the last decade, using energy from the Turnkey Landfill is a more efficient and less expensive option. In addition, according to UNH President Mark Huddleston, the school's "greenhouse gas emissions will actually be 57 percent below [its] 1990 levels." The video shown above explains the EcoLine project in more detail.
Altamont Landfill
In early 2008, Waste Management entered into a joint venture with Linde North America - part of The Linde Group, a leading global gases and engineering company to build and landfill gas to liquefied natural gas (LFG to LNG) facility at the Altamont Landfill in Livermore, California. At this location, landfill gas is being collected and processed to create clean, renewable fuels to "close the loop" on waste collection. You can learn more about how this joint venture came to be by watching this video.

Since September 2009, when the commissioning process began, the plant has produced 200,000 gallons of LNG. To completely close the waste management loop, 500 of Waste Management's waste and recycling collection trucks throughout California are now running on the LNG created at the Altamont plant,instead of filling up with diesel.