University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston announced today that UNH and Waste Management of New Hampshire, Inc, have launched the EcoLine project. 12.7 miles of pipeline will be constructed to carry purified and enriched gas from Waste Management’s Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise (TREE) facility in Rochester to the University’s Durham campus.
UNH is the first university in the nation to take on such a vast landfill waste energy project. Construction is set to commence immediately on a landfill gas purification plant in Rochester.
The new landfill gas will replace much of the natural gas used in UNH’s cogeneration plant, and will allow the university to get 80-85% of its energy from the renewable landfill gas while stabilizing its volatile energy costs, which rise nearly 20% on average annually. In addition, the university’s greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by approximately 67% over 2005 levels.
Waste Management is the nation’s largest owner and operator of landfills, operating 281 in North America. The company recently announced that it is embarking on a substantial landfill gas-to-energy initiative culminating in the construction of an additional 60 renewable energy facilities. Altogether, Waste Management expects to generate over 700 megawatts of non-polluting, renewable energy that could power 700,000 homes while eliminating the need for over eight million barrels of oil.
Over 100 of Waste Management’s landfills already have the conversion projects underway.
“By reducing the university’s dependence on fossil fuels and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, EcoLine is an environmentally and fiscally responsible initiative. UNH is proud to lead the nation and our peer institutions in this landmark step toward sustainability,” said Huddleston.
Some people tend to confuse landfill gas with methane gas or even natural gas. However, they are three separate things.
Methane is actually one of the greenhouse gases and contains a lot of carbon. Natural gas itself is 80-98% methane mixed with several other hydrocarbons.
Landfill gas is approximately 40-60% methane, with the rest of the emissions made up mostly of carbon dioxide but also of over 100 other non-methane organic compounds and gases including water vapor, nitrogen, and oxygen.
Municipal solid waste landfills are the largest man-made source of methane emissions in the United States. With all landfills generating methane, researchers have been developing methods of capturing and then distributing the gas in order to generate electricity instead of letting it be emitted into the atmosphere.
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases-21 times stronger than carbon dioxide-and supporters of the global warming concept believe that it contributes directly and strongly to climate Methane also has a short atmospheric life of only 10 years, meaning it is easily broken down in the atmosphere. Reducing methane emissions from MSW landfills is thought to be one of things that people need to do to have a near-term beneficial impact in mitigating global warming.
It is estimated that a LFG system can capture anywhere from 60-90% of the emitted methan, depending on the system’s design and maintenance. The captured methane is destroyed, being converted to water and the much weaker carbon dioxide gas, when it is burned to produce electricity.
University of New Hampshire (PR Newswire), “First University in Nation to Use Landfill Gas as Primary Energy Source”