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How to Increase Landfill Methane Production to Generate Profits

How to Increase Landfill Methane Production to Generate Profits

Landfill methane production Landfills can turn the rotting garbage piled up on their sites into huge profits, and a recently patented process explains how to increase methane production to get the highest returns from the mountains of accumulated stinking waste. As trash on landfills decomposes, it produces a mixture of landfill gases, consisting largely of methane, a highly flammable gas that can be used to generate heat or electricity. But because methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and in most cases landfills just don’t produce sufficient quantities for energy production to be viable, landfills typically burn off methane by flaring it to prevent the hazardous gas from escaping into the atmosphere, where it poses both a health and safety risk and a climate risk. But a recently patented process developed by Russel Chianelli, a professor of chemistry at the University of Texas, El Paso, describes how landfill managers can increase methane production on landfills to make methane capture for energy viable and profitable. According to Chianelli, landfills are wasting valuable methane by flaring it off. By utilizing this new process, landfills can increase their energy production and generate profits by selling this back to electric utilities.

How Does the Process Boost Landfill Methane Production?

Chianelli’s process involves the capture and recycling of exhaust gas that is emitted during the process of producing electricity from landfill methane. This gas is then used to increase heat and moisture within the landfill, which provides favorable conditions for landfill methane production, thus boosting methane output. The exhaust gas also contains carbon dioxide, which releases methane when it is broken down further on the landfill.

Enhancing Landfill Methane Production Further

The process suggests that landfill methane production can be boosted further still by utilizing a portion of the recycled exhaust gases to cultivate algae. “What makes the methane in landfills are the organisms that are feeding on decomposing waste,” explains Chianelli. “So what we need to do is feed them even more for more methane production.” Half of the algae produced this way can then be pumped into the landfill to enhance methane production, while the balance can be used for producing biofuels. “What's great about this is that it's a clean process,” said Chianelli. "Nothing goes to waste; it's a zero-discharge system.” Reference "Landfill Methane Enhancement Process," Patent No. 8,956,854, issued by the United State Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.
Image Credit: By  LSDSL [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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