Issued on September 22, 1998
U.S. Department of Energy
DOE Funds Small Business Project to Clean Landfill Gas, Provide Alternative
Uses for Greenhouse Gases
An Ohio-based small business supported by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant is completing a field demonstration this month that could help pioneer an innovative process for reducing greenhouse gases emitted from landfills. One of the gases captured from the landfill - methane - could be turned into a key future energy resource.
Acrion Technologies, headquartered in Cleveland, OH, used a Small Business Innovation Research Program grant from DOE to test a cleaning process for naturally occurring landfill gas, a mixture of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. The gas also contains smaller amounts of volatile organic compounds, such as chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbons.
Landfills are the largest source of human-caused methane emissions in the United States. As waste decomposes in a landfill, it can generate gas for up to 30 years. Landfill gas poses environmental and safety hazards because the methane and volatile organic compounds contribute to air pollution and, under certain circumstances, can be explosive. It is also a source of odors if not flared or captured for commercial use. Environmental Protection Agency regulations now require landfill operators to collect the gases and burn off any that are not used for commercial purposes.
Operating with $824,979 from DOE's Federal Energy Technology Center, Acrion conducted field tests at the Al Turi Landfill in Goshen, New York. The company added $89,841 in cost-sharing for the project. Tests this summer applied the innovative process Acrion calls "CO2 Wash" to raw landfill gas, reducing the volatile organic compounds by 100 percent. Methane and CO2 were all that remained in the product gas.
Since methane is the chief constituent of natural gas, the methane from landfills, once cleaned and processed, can be fed into natural gas pipelines. Alternatively, it could be used to make methanol which, in turn, can be used as a transportation fuel or for chemical manufacturing processes. CO2 separated from the product gas can be used for such commercial purposes as the production of dry ice.
Today about 140 landfills in the U.S. are putting their landfill gas to use by generating electricity with internal combustion engines and turbines, using it directly in boilers, industrial processes and greenhouses, or upgrading it for pipelines and vehicle fuel.
The Acrion process captures the naturally occurring gases from the landfill, dehydrates, compresses and feeds them to the bottom of a 15-ft tall column where refrigeration at the top of the column condenses the CO2. The condensed CO2 then washes down the column, carrying environmentally-harmful substances to the bottom where they are separated. A small amount of CO2 containing volatile organic compounds is all that remains to be flared.
Acrion's CO2 wash differs fundamentally from other separation schemes for trace volatile organic compounds in two ways: 1) the separating agent, liquid CO2, is obtained directly from landfill gas, and 2) spent liquid CO2 solvent need not be regenerated for reuse in the process, but can instead be sent to the landfill flare where combustion virtually eliminates harmful emissions.
Acrion will complete its demonstration in September and has begun seeking partners to commercialize the technology. This demonstration project was also made possible with the help and cooperation of J-W Operating Company and Al Turi Landfill Inc. of Goshen, New York; and The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
- End of TechLine -
For additional information contact:
Hattie C. Wolfe, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy Headquarters, (202) 586-6503; e-mail address: email@example.com.
William R. Brown, President Acrion Technologies, 9099 Bank Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44125, Phone: (216) 573-1187, FAX: (216) 573-1186; e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.