Great article on NPR about the Altamont Landfill in California. The Altamont landfill has been used by San Francisco and Oakland residents and businesses since 1980. Since November, a facility constructed on the 240-acre landfill has been turning the methane gas produced by the landfill into liquefied natural gas (LNG) used to fuel almost 500 Waste Management Inc. garbage and recycling trucks
“We’ve built the largest landfill-to-LNG plant in the world; this plant produces 13,000 gallons a day of LNG,” said Jessica Jones, a landfill manager for Houston-based Waste Management. “It will take 30,000 tons a year of CO2 from the environment.”
The Altamont landfill has more than 100 wells with black tubes throughout the facility that vacuum up methane from the heap and that is then turned into LNG. The LNG is pumped into the garbage and recycling trucks at a company fueling station in Oakland.
The Altamont Landfill has been doing their best to make use of the landfill as a resource for some time. Since 1989 they’ve had a methane-fueled electric power plant that can power 8,000 homes a day.
I’ve noticed quite a few stories about landfill energy plants during my time at AGA. According to the article, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency counted 517 active landfill energy projects in the nation’s approximately 1,800 operational municipal landfills in 2009. That was up almost 50 percent from 2000, and 28 percent from 2004.
One of the challenges with these types of projects is the initial expense but there’s some good news here. Four state environmental agencies contributed grants to help build the $15.5 million Altamont plant. Mike Beckman of Linde Group North America, the company that built and runs the natural gas plant, said the Altamont plant should continue producing fuel for 20 years or more meaning the plant should be profitable since the gas is sold to Waste Management and other customers.
The article has a lot more great information and pictures so I’d encourage a read. If you know of any similar projects in your area, let us know in the comments.