Landfill Methane Production

Waste prevention and recycling which will massively reduce the amount of waste going into landfills are critical to stopping climate change. Waste-to-energy (WTE) plants create heat and electricity from burning mixed solid waste. Waste minimization and recycling help address global climate change by decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and saving energy.

However, if all the waste prevention that can be done has been done there is an argument that says do no more and landfill this material and generate as much landfill gas as possible.

Landfill methane is an excellent and frequently untapped resource. Most times gases are simply flared or burned in the atmosphere. Landfill methane is typically flared. However, interest in the use of landfill gas to fuel electricity generation is growing. Landfill methane is collected at a growing number of landfill sites and burned for energy production which mitigates the global warming effect of the methane as well as producing electricity and/or heat.

Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas in terms of its global warming potential after carbon dioxide, but its reduction is much easier and cheaper to achieve and less socially disruptive. The Kyoto protocol allows countries to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets by cutting back on gases other than CO2, so methane reduction would seem a logical priority in any bid to comply.

Methane yield calculations when carried out at a landfill allow methane emission rates to be inventoried and characterized, but are often difficult to realize by the installation of gas extraction systems if engineered structures such as gas and leachate collection systems are not present. The production of methane balance calculations on one engineered landfill in Chile, recently reportedly filled the information gap in this area, and showed an economic case for the installation of an Energy from Waste (EfW) scheme.

Methane, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide compose the gases formed in a landfill. These gases have no odor. Methane gas is up to 21 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas to warm our planet, than carbon dioxide and if allowed to release into the atmosphere will greatly speed up the effects of global warming. This is why the bio-reactor which is any modern landfill must be properly designed and set up so that the gases released can be collected and stored for use in generating electricity.

Methane gases from this decomposing organic waste in landfills are already a huge contributing factor towards global warming.

Methane is usually extracted by sinking pipes or wells into the landfill and sucking the gas out. But if the surroundings are not airtight, sucking out methane also sucks in air. Methane gas produced by bio-degradation is drawn off by wells on site and burned or purified and sold.

Explosions and fires at old dumps and landfills are often the result of methane build-up in a building on or adjacent to the landfill property. Explosives and live munitions were not allowed to be landfilled but it was a normal practice to dispose of inert scrap metal in a landfill.

Methane in groundwater and landfill gas monitoring will also be necessary to ensure the remedy to gas emissions problems remains effective.

About the Author
You can only go so far with waste prevention and what do you do then? Steve Evans is an authority on methane yield calculations and Global Warming effects visit any one of the landfill product and resource links we give here in this sentence, and you will not be disappointed.

Landfill methane

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