Cutting the ribbon at the new landfill gas to liquefied natural gas plant at the Waste Management Altamont Landfill and Resource Recovery Facility in Livermore took a lot of hands. Holding the big scissors were representatives from Waste Management, The Linde Group, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the California Energy Commission, and the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB), all of whom played a role in making the plant a reality.
“This is something I’ve dreamed about for eight years, the concept of taking gas from waste in the ground and turning it into clean fuel that we use in our trucks,” said Waste Management senior vice president Duane Woods. He noted that during the two-hour opening event, the landfill gas (LFG)-to-liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant would produce about 700 gallons of ultra-low-carbon LNG for Waste Management’s truck fleet. When the plant reaches its full capacity, it will produce 13,000 gallons a day.
The Altamont LFG-to-LNG plant, the largest such facility in the world, is a partnership between Waste Management and Linde, a world-leading gases and engineering company. Four California agencies contributed to the $15.5 million project: CIWMB, CARB, the California Energy Commission, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. GTI managed several of the state grants and licensed elements of the LNG production technology used at the facility.
“We love this project and there is really nothing not to love about it,” said CARB chair Mary Nichols, who represented Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the event. “It’s taking material that would otherwise go into the atmosphere and be a contributor to global warming and turning it into a useful product that is cutting emissions.”
As organic matter within the Altamont Landfill decomposes, it produces “landfill gas,” a mixture of mostly methane and carbon dioxide, both greenhouse gases. An elaborate network of wells and a vacuum extraction system capture the landfill gases, which are then run through an extensive filtration system and converted into LNG. The energy to power the plant also comes from LFG pumped through solar gas turbines connected to generators, a system that has been in place for 10 years.
When LNG vehicles from Waste Management’s fleet arrive at the Altamont Landfill to drop off trash, they can refuel right at the LFG-to-LNG plant. The LNG will also be used in Waste Management vehicles in 20 California communities.
“With this new plant, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and drastically reduce the carbon emissions from our natural gas fleet by creating a clean fuel from thousands of tons of garbage that have been disposed of in this facility,” said Woods.
He added that the LNG produced at the Altamont Landfill has 85% less carbon intensity than gasoline or diesel and even has lower carbon emissions than electric vehicles, when considering everything it takes to charge such vehicles.
“This is exactly the kind of win-win situation we are looking for in trying to transform our whole energy economy away from having to extract, process, and import fuels from other parts of the world,” said Nichols.
The Altamont LFG-to-LNG facility meets two of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s environmental directives: the Bioenergy Action Plan, which seeks to advance the use and market development of biomass as a transportation fuel, and Executive Order S-3-05, which aims to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020.
“To meet our State’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we need to take advantage of biofuels such as these being created here. They are in very short supply right now. Although there are inventions out there on the horizon, this is really the only full-size producing plant in existence today,” Nichols added.
With the commissioning of the Altamont Landfill LFG-to-LNG facility, Waste Management and Linde are already turning their sights to new projects. “There is a lot of landfill gas still being flared, so there is a lot of potential out there,” said Kent Stoddard, a Waste Management vice president. “Biogas is an important domestic source of renewable energy.”
The two companies are scouting locations for another LFG-to-LNG plant, which could be another of Waste Management’s 227 landfills nationwide. Once a site is chosen, construction of a plant would take about 12 to 15 months.
Steve Eckhardt, who heads alternative energy business development for Linde, said he’s been fielding constant requests from around the world for information about the LFG-to-LNG plant. “It took a lot of time and energy to get here, but we’ve shown it can be done cost-effectively and efficiently,” he said.
Sources: The Independent & WIH Resource Group
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