The Rise of Landfill Gas to Energy

Landfill gas (LFG) provides power for one million homes and heat for 737,000 homes across the country. It provides 14 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 102 billion cu. ft. of LFG for direct use by industry. It contributes to the nation’s supply of natural gas and clean-burning fuel for vehicles.

According to an article on Waste 360, landfill-gas-to-energy has begun to emerge as a renewable energy industry. The EPA also estimates that a typical LFG energy project collects and uses 60 to 90 percent of the methane emitted by a landfill.

The article features the project at the Newton County Landfill in Brook, Indiana. At the industrial park, Canadian firm Urban Forest Recyclers Inc. (UFR) of Swift Current, Sask., manufactures packaging, such as egg cartons, from recycled fiber. The process blends mixed newsprint and cardboard into a slurry that is poured into molds. The LFG fuels the system of blowers used to dry the molds.

Since 1994, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been encouraging landfill operators to develop LFGTE projects through its Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP). The program, voluntary for landfill owners and other participants, is an effort to reduce emissions of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, from landfills by spurring LFGTE projects. The Newton County project is one of 568 operational LFGTE projects listed in the LMOP registry.

The article also looks at how LFGTE projects that produce electricity and heat can use LFG that has undergone dewatering and compression. LFGTE is a small industry, to be sure, but it is proving that industries based on renewable concepts can innovate, grow and work.