First-of-its-kind Sustainable Landfill in Texas Becomes a Global Model

The City of Denton Landfill (Texas, USA) reportedly is the first in the world to implement “closed-loop waste management.” This technique combines landfill gas (LFG) capture with landfill mining to sort out and recover reusable and re-sellable plastics and metals, as well the remaining organic material for conversion to biomass energy pellets. Mining reduces the volume of material enough (by an estimated 95%) for the fill space itself to be re-used for new waste placement, thereby extending the life of the landfill essentially indefinitely (i.e., perpetual landfill). Dr. Sahadat Hossain, of the Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability (SWIS) at the University of Texas Arlington, developed this perpetual landfill model to be cost-efficient and potentially profitable. The roughly 20-year cyclical process significantly reduces the need for long-term environmental monitoring, one of the greatest legacy swis-logocosts of landfill management. It also reduces a municipality’s land acquisition costs for future landfill sites, while providing a revenue stream in the forms of cheap, locally-produced energy and reusable materials.

While the concept is readily applicable to U.S. solid waste management sites, even greater potential may reside in many developing countries, where open-pit landfills and open-air trash burning are common solid waste disposal methods. Many of the developing world’s cities do not have the same level of access to public and private funding for landfill projects as their counterparts in developed nations, and cannot readily afford greener and more sanitary forms of waste management. However, the profitability factor of the closed-loop technique, along with potential public health and environmental benefits, could be attractive to both budget-conscious policymakers and investors, creating potential for deployment worldwide (source: Al Jazeera). Speaking with Methane International, Dr. Hossain says SWIS and the City of Denton have already welcomed representatives from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who plan to implement a closed-loop system for their city.

Another sign of global applicability is the group of international students and researchers eager to come to SWIS each year to learnwinter-school-students about emerging methods like this at a two-week “Winter School,” a hands-on landfill sustainability program hosted jointly with the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) and the City of Denton. Dr. Hossain and his team will welcome the Winter School’s 2017 class of up-and-coming landfill sustainability specialists to Arlington, Texas, on January 16-27, where GMI’s Tom Frankiewicz will be a featured presenter.

And the timing of the gathering couldn’t be better – it just happens to be January of 2017 that the nearby City of Denton’s new landfill system is expected to become fully operational.

California’s Landmark Methane Legislation

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Governor Brown giving remarks before the bill-signing in Long Beach, California. Photo credit: Joe McHugh, California Highway Patrol.

On 19 September 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation enacting new emission limits on short-lived climate pollutants, particularly methane, in the state of California. This historic legislation is globally relevant as it limits methane emissions from the most populous U.S. state and one of the largest economies in the world. California emits roughly 40 MMTCO2e each year, of which 21% comes from landfills and more than half comes from its impressive agriculture sector (source: California Air Resources Board).

 

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Breakdown of 2014 methane emissions in the state of California, by sector. Source: California Air Resources Board (CARB)

The new law calls for a statewide reduction of methane emissions by 40% below 2013 levels by 2030. In addition to the statewide reduction of total emissions, the legislation further specifies a steep reduction in organic waste disposal in state landfills (up to a 75% reduction below 2014 disposal levels by 2025) and 40% reduction from 2013 levels of methane emissions from the state’s dairy and livestock sectors by 2030.

The rules lay out strategies to limit emissions, including a suite of new methane capture and re-use programs tied to more than $90 million in funding. Most of that funding – $50 million from the state’s pre-existing Cap-and-Trade program – is to be directed to help the dairy industry offset the cost of new digester equipment that will be used to control methane emissions.

In addition to direct funding, the new laws include strategies to “identify and address technical, market, regulatory, and other challenges and barriers” to biomethane projects. This includes helping to develop five new pilot projects, establishing new energy infrastructure development and procurement policies (including a biomethane pipeline system), and a pilot financial mechanism “to reduce the economic uncertainty associated with the value of environmental credits.”

The law also calls for a 50% increase in composting in the next four years in order to support the new organic waste stream reductions, and lays out a provisional mechanism to provide financial incentives for the deployment of technology to reduce enteric methane emissions – that is, those from gaseous bovine expulsions – should that technology become both cost-effective and “scientifically proven.”

Anaerobic Digester Training Deck

GMI has finalized its interactive Anaerobic Digestion (AD) for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) instructional presentation. The presentation – designed to be reviewed by a group or individually – is a truly comprehensive collection of resources, including:

  • Introduction to AD for MSW
  • Overview of AD processes and technologies
  • Review of the benefits of AD
  • Review of the key areas to consider when developing an AD project
  • Assorted AD case studies and a review of AD worldwide

The presentation can be used sequentially, or by using its internal links to navigate between sections. Click below to start your tour!

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Best Wishes to J. Bocanegra, O&G Subcommittee Co-Chair

javier-photoWith both sadness and pride, GMI’s Administrative Support Group announces that Javier Bocanegra Reyes, GMI’s long-standing Oil & Gas Subcommittee Co-Chair, has retired from Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) as of 15 July 2016, after nearly 33 years of service. Mr. Bocanegra has also stepped down from his role as Co-Chair of the Oil & Gas Subcommittee, a position he had held since the chartering of the Global Methane Initiative as well as since the inception of the program as the Methane to Markets Partnership in 2004.

Alongside Elias Freig of the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) and GMI’s Municipal Wastewater Subcommittee, Mr. Bocanegra spearheaded Mexico’s active participation in GMI. A stalwart fixture of the Initiative for more than a dozen years, Mr. Bocanegra attended and facilitated countless informal meetings, formal subcommittee meetings, and both the 2013 Global Methane Expo and 2015 Global Methane Forum. He was often quick to volunteer as a speaker or panel member, and presented on Mexico’s active engagement in methane management and GMI at numerous meetings. Mr. Bocanegra also participated in other international organizations and associations such as the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC) and the Regional Association of Oil, Gas, and Biofuels Sector Companies in Latin American and the Caribbean (ARPEL).pemex logo

Over his many years of service, Mr. Bocanegra represented and promoted both PEMEX and the GMI across Mexico, Latin America and the world. In a message to the ASG, Mr. Bocanegra expressed his gratitude to GMI for the “great support provided to PEMEX to help to understand the importance of reducing methane emissions in its operations” and his pleasure at our collaborations over the years. GMI thanks and congratulates Mr. Bocanegra on the outstanding contributions he has made to the Oil & Gas Subcommittee and to GMI overall.

Methane from Space, and Happy Birthday to MI!

Happy 1st Anniversary to the Methane International blog, which premiered on July 20, 2015! We hope you have found this format to be useful in learning about the latest GMI, methane, and climate news. The invitation from our first post still stands – please feel free to submit entries with our MI Article Submission Form!

This week we’d like to feature work from our American partner National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Earth Observatory blog. In March, they published a fantastic post chock full of charts and graphs on why methane matters and scientists’ work to quantify the effects of methane emissions. The March post features:

We especially enjoyed the handy charts and graphs, such as this useful graph with projections:

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(credit: NASA)

In a follow-up post this month, NASA rounded up the results of current methane studies. This post explains the following in plain language:

  • Why the agricultural sector (rice and livestock production) is likely the culprit of recent methane concentration increases;
  • How the U.S. has played an outsized role in global methane emissions increases; and
  • The role of satellites in the future of quantifying methane emissions.

We hope you will continue to return to the Methane International Blog as your one-stop shop on all methane news and global emission reduction activities!

 

GMI Visits Biogas Facilities in China

Earlier this week we shared a post by a blogger in China about a sludge-to-energy project that GMI supports. As it turns out, GMI Municipal Solid Waste Subcommittee Chair Tom Frankiewicz – among other staff – was recently in China, working on a host of biogas projects (including that one). Check out below some photos from sites on his itinerary!

Liumingying Biogas Supply Plant

china1-3Started in 1991, the Liumingying Biogas Supply Plant uses chicken manure in anaerobic digesters to create biogas that is supplied to seven nearby villages for cooking gas. The villages maintain the biogas plant operations, and each household receives a cooktop for using the biogas to prepare meals.

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Tom and Dr. Heinz-Peter Mang, biogas technical expert, inspect tanks used to store biogas for distribution to the villages (above). The biogas plant also uses digestate to produce compost that is used in agriculture (below).

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Beijing Century Green Environmental Engineering & Technology Ltd. (CGEET)

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Tour of the GCEET sludge treatment and utilization plant. Treated sludge is turned into compost that is used in urban landscaping.

 

CANFIT Resource Recovery

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Tom and delegates from Senegal observe a model of the CANFIT Resource Recovery facility located in Beijing. Mr. J.C. Yu, President of CANFIT, explains how waste products like sludge and discarded organic waste are turned into beneficial products (i.e., compost, biogas, biochar, biodiesel and biomethane) for sale to customers. The facility serves over 4 million inhabitants and plans are underway for expansion of the facility to accept more discarded waste for use in beneficial products.

GMI Speaker Highlight – Coal Mine Methane: Tom Vessels

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Tom Vessels, CEO of Vessels Coal Gas, Inc. Photo credit: Vessels Coal Gas, Inc.

Tom Vessels has been working in the natural gas and coal mining industries for more than 40 years. He is currently the president of Vessels Coal Gas, Inc. (Vessels) and manager of North Fork Energy, LLC, both of Denver, Colorado, USA. Mr. Vessels’ presentation will cover the stages of coal mine methane (CMM) project development, including conception, initial discussions, and initial design. He will also cover project operations and technical issues to resolve in local environments, as well as discuss policy and political hurdles one might encounter when developing a CMM project.

 

vessels2Vessels has been working on qualifying energy from waste mine methane for the high value carbon and energy markets since 2007. The company has developed and is expanding projects for capturing CMM in three states. The company’s largest CMM collection project is in Colorado, while its longest-running project is in Pennsylvania. Vessels has won awards for environmental excellence in both states.

Vessels currently operates a CMM recovery facility on the abandoned Bethlehem Energy Mine 33, initially registered with the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). The pipeline injection of mine gas project came online in May 2008 and electrical generation began in December 2010. As of January 1, 2013 the plant had sold over 407 billion cubic feet of natural gas into the Peoples Natural Gas local distribution company pipeline. The plant has produced over 152,910 Verified Carbon Units using the VCS methodology, and generated 8,291,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 8,291 Renewable Energy Credits.

vessels3Under the Climate Action Reserve, the company is currently destroying approximately 2,700,000 standard cubic feet per day of vented mine methane.