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Ohio landfills making methane fuel from trash

Sep 20, 2009 - The Associated Press

About 40 percent of the country's 1,000 largest landfills, including 11 in Ohio, are collecting and marketing their landfill gases.

About 400 acres of the sprawling American Landfill in Stark County in eastern Ohio are perforated with 133 wells that are extracting methane gas.

American Landfill, where all of Akron's garbage goes, is one of the state's largest landfills and is part of a growing number of such operations that are capturing the landfill gases.

Though carbon dioxide is often identified as the chief cause of the greenhouse effect, methane is far more powerful at trapping heat in the upper atmosphere.

Cows are the top source of methane in the United States, accounting for 23.7 percent of emissions followed by landfills, with 22.7 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA said it knows of 485 landfill gas projects in 44 states that together collect 85 billion cubic feet of gas and generate 2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity - about the same as an average U.S. nuclear power plant.

One of the largest landfill-gas-to-pipeline facilities in the world is in southwest Ohio at the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill near Cincinnati.

That facility recovers 15 million cubic feet of landfill gas a day from three gas-recovery plants operated by Montauk Energy Capital, enough to heat 25,000 households.

In the Columbus area, landfill gas from the 142-acre Franklin County landfill is being turned into compressed natural gas to fuel cars and light trucks. The landfill gas from the Grove City site is expected to save 250,000 gallons of gasoline a year.

The extraction removes as much as four million cubic feet of gas - enough to heat 6,155 households a day.

The process cools and filters the gas, then pushes it through a pipeline to a Dominion East Ohio facility. Dominion blends the landfill extract with natural gas before it is sold by Texas-based Toro Energy to heat homes and factories.

American Landfill's gas-extraction system was started in 2003 and produces between 3 million and 4 million cubic feet a day of landfill gas.

The landfill has more than 15 million tons of trash already buried and gets a fresh 3,700 tons a day into the 1,072-acre site. The landfill has the capacity to accept trash for another 62 years.


Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, http://www.ohio.com