With rising concern about energy sources, landfill gas (LFG) has emerged as an easily available, economically competitive, and proven energy resource. As of January 2005, there were 375 LFG energy (LFGE) projects in the United States, generating electricity or providing direct-use energy sources for boilers, furnaces, and other applications. Approximately 100 direct-use LFGE projects in operation burned over 70 billion cubic feet (bcf) of LFGE in 2004. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), there are still more than 600 landfills that could be developed, offering a potential gas flow capacity of over 280 bcf per year.
LFG is a byproduct of the decay process of organic matter in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. The gas typically contains approximately 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide, with some additional trace compounds. The heat value of LFG ranges from 400 to 600 British thermal units (Btu) per cubic foot and can burn in virtually any application with minor adjustments to air/fuel ratios. The use of LFG provides environmental and economic benefits, and users of LFG have achieved significant cost savings compared to traditional fuel usage due primarily to the fact that LFG costs are consistently lower than the cost of natural gas.
Additionally, because LFG is comprised of approximately 50% methane, a major greenhouse gas, reducing landfill methane emissions by utilizing it as a fuel helps businesses, energy providers, and communities protect the environment and build a more sustainable energy future.