An Assessment of Landfill Gas Energy Technologies and Issues 1999-01-2715
There have been estimates that the solid waste stream of municipal garbage could be converted to 5% of the total electric power requirement. In response to this potential many high capital cost incinerators have been installed around the country during the last two decades. Success has been marginal and many have been prematurely shut down because of technical problems and public concerns about emissions and potentially toxic ash. The alternative is to continue to use landfills, but to capture the methane that is produced by the decay of organic matter for the production of heat and electricity. Several such facilities have been installed in recent years and are demonstrating increasingly favorable operation. The purpose of this project was to research the techniques and technologies that are used to harness landfill gas, along with the related considerations of state and federal regulations and public health concerns from exposing the public to unburned and uncleaned landfill gas. Four sites were visited including one location where gas is being extracted from both a capped and an active landfill. The results of this research including the evolving techniques and technologies that were observed in the site visits will be described in this paper.