Methane capture and use current practices vs future possibilities
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Methane Capture and Use: Current Practices vs. Future Possibilities

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Methane Capture and Use: Current Practices vs. Future Possibilities


Methane Capture and Use: Current Practices

  • Today’s primary use of capture Methane from a landfill or digester is Electrical Power Generation by internal combustion engine (turbine or reciprocating) typical installation consist of the following major components:

    • Gas compression equipment for gas field extraction and compression to 2-3 psig

    • Internal Combustion Engine is usually a reciprocating engine that manufactured for numerous other commercial applications with some enhancements to run on landfill or digester gas.

    • Engine is coupled to synchronous generator.

    • Electrical power controlled and connected to the grid via common electrical switchgear with some additional controls for load control.

    • Electrical substation consisting of station transformer (stepping up to utility distribution voltage and well as utility tie breaker (at distribution voltage.


Methane Capture and Use: Current Practices

  • Why is electrical power generation the preferred choice?

    • Financially feasible in most areas of the country.

    • Proven technology that is relatively simple with a system that is comprised of common everyday components.

    • Operation fits in well with day to day operation of a landfill.

    • Low risk compared to alternatives

  • Other common current practices:

    • Direct fired heating examples: leachate evaporation, asphalt plant, space heating

    • Steam production for various commercial and industrial processes.


Methane Capture and Use: Current Practices

  • Current state of landfill methane to energy development

    • Market is mature; almost all large landfills have projects or are committed to projects.

    • Most opportunities today involve landfills with 1000 SCFM or less of gas.

    • In cases where there is REC market and or high electrical energy cost smaller power plants once thought to be unfeasible are now feasible.

    • Changing landscape of the energy market opens new possibilities for methane use.


Methane Capture and Use: Future Possibilities

  • Conversion of LFG to pipe line quality gas

    • Different technologies used:

      • membrane separation process

      • pressure swing adsorption

      • absorption process using a liquid solvent

    • Benefits

      • Delivery of renewable energy to anyone within the natural gas transmission and distribution network.

      • Eliminates some emissions issues associated with conventional combustion and power generations.

      • Extraction and isolation H2S is possible with pressure swing adsorption.

      • Extraction of CO2 for commercial sale


Methane Capture and Use: Future Possibilities

  • Conversion of LFG to pipe line quality gas

    • Challenges:

      • High capital cost for equipment

      • Financial Feasibility is limited to large scale projects

      • Very limited number current operating applications; technology still developing

      • Location has to be in close proximity to natural gas pipeline

      • Uncertainity natural gas market

      • High parasitic for conversion and compression

      • CO2 is only suitable for industrial application not food market due impurities and stigma associated with LFG


Methane Capture and Use: Future Possibilities

  • Conversion of LFG to CNG for use in vehicular applications

    • Technologies similar to LFG to pipeline quality with additional compression equipment and storage

    • Benefits

      • More commercial vehicles available with CNG option

      • A small landfill with 250 SCFM of 50% could displace over a 1000 gallons of # 2 diesel fuel.

      • Cleaner fuel for commercial vehicles.

      • Extraction and isolation H2S is possible with pressure swing adsorption.

      • Extraction of CO2 for commercial sale


Methane Capture and Use: Future Possibilities

  • Conversion of LFG to CNG for use in vehicular applications

    • Challenges:

      • High capital cost for equipment

      • Financial Feasibility is limited to large scale projects

      • No current commercial operating applications; technology still very early in developing

      • Storage

      • Vehicles available.

      • Regulatory issues exist in many states

      • High parasitic for conversion and compression

      • CO2 is only suitable for industrial application not food market due impurities and stigma associated with LFG


Methane Capture and Use: Future Possibilities

  • Combine Heat and Power

    • Technologies are similar to straight power generation with heat recovery for heating and cooling.

    • Benefits

      • With net metering small CHP projects 500 kW or less make very good financial sense.

      • Inexpensive energy source for electricity, heating and cooling for industrial or commercial real estate development in close proximity to a landfill.

      • Total thermal efficiency approaching 85% are possible.

      • Small scale possibilities

    • Challenges

      • Net metering

      • Electrical interconnect.

      • Island operation

      • Location must have loads (electrical and heat) in close proximity of landfill.


Methane Capture and Use: Future Possibilities

  • Other Possibilities

    • Conversion to methanol or ethanol

    • Fuel Cells

    • Hydrogen Production


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