Waste Management unveiled its latest tech innovation today at its Outer Loop Recycling and Disposal Facility in Kentucky, turning waste from the landfill into usable, renewable natural gas (RNG). This new facility captures methane produced by the landfill and converts it into pipeline quality natural gas.
The facility processes up to 5,000 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) of incoming landfill gas. This equates to about 2,500 mmbtu per day of RNG, or 18,000 diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) per day. Waste Management uses approximately 18,000 DGE to fuel 800 of its compressed natural gas (CNG) collection trucks.
“Waste Management’s innovative renewable natural gas facilities close the loop by converting discarded waste into beneficial gas that can go into the pipeline and fuel our very own CNG collection vehicles,” said Jim Trevathan, Waste Management executive vice president and chief operating officer.
The following infographic illustrates the waste-to-gas process:
The Outer Loop RNG facility serves as a model for a planned rollout of additional facilities in the coming years. Waste Management also operates renewable natural gas facilities in Illinois (Milam Landfill) and Ohio (American Landfill).
RNG, or biomethane, is a pipeline-quality gas that is fully interchangeable with conventional natural gas and thus can be used in natural gas vehicles. RNG is essentially biogas, the gaseous product of the decomposition of organic matter, that has been processed to purity standards. Like conventional natural gas, RNG can be used as a transportation fuel in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Waste Management reports that 16 million diesel equivalent gallons of renewable natural gas are produced by harnessing the methane at the company’s landfills with RNG facilities. Waste Management uses this RNG to fuel a portion of its collection fleet, lowering fuel costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions more than 80% compared to those powered by diesel.
Waste Management’s 110 compressed natural gas stations deliver 60 million diesel equivalent gallons of natural gas each year. The company’s fleet of 6,700 natural gas trucks represents 30% of the company’s overall collection fleet.
An article published on energymangertoday.com in April reported that renewable natural gas production is on the rise in the United States, but research from the World Resources Institute shows the potential to help fuel fleets of heavy-duty trucks and buses is larger than previously thought.
In a comparison that provides a sense of RNG’s potential, the global research nonprofit says, “About 50 million tons of unused organic waste is produced every year in the US, which is the energy-content equivalent of 6 billion gallons of diesel — or 15% of the diesel consumed by the country’s heavy-duty trucks and buses last year.”
The article also states that over a five-year period, from 2011 to 2016, RNG production in the United States grew from 1.4 million ethanol-equivalent gallons to nearly 190 million. That growth was driven in large part by economic incentives provided by renewable and low-carbon fuel policies, WRI noted.
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