Resource Potential of Municipal Waste Biogenic Gas
HUTCHINSON, PETER J., Chambers Development Company, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA
Modern municipal waste containment facilities (landfills) in North America generate over 500 billion ft3 of methane per year, but less than 0.1% of this renewable resource is exploited. The use of this resource is hindered due to high start up costs, poor economic return, technical problems, legal difficulties, and limited sales markets. However, landfills always occur near population centers, have readily accessible reserves of methane and carbon dioxide, and have production periods of over 20 years; consequently, biogenic landfill gas can serve as a resource base.
Landfills generate methane and carbon dioxide in subequal volumes. The gas must be vacuum-extracted from the subaerial landfill deposit before it can be exploited. Strategies for exploitation of landfill gas include (1) generation of electricity, (2) use as a low-Btu fuel, (3) use as a high-Btu fuel, and (4) use as a feedstock for chemical manufacturing.
Electric generation and the creation of fuel follow a paradigm of dehydration and compression of the landfill gas prior to use. The propagation of a high-Btu fuel also entails expensive petrochemical manipulation and possible enrichment of the gas with butane or propane.
Landfill gas as a feedback for chemical manufacturing can be used to generate simple aliphatic hydrocarbons, primarily alcohols. The production of methanol has been suggested as an economically viable fuel, due to high heat energy available per unit volume of the liquid phase. Ethanol can be produced from landfill gas through various catalysts and can be a chemical feedstock for many chemical compounds.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91005 © 1991 Eastern Section Meeting, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 8-10, 1991 (2009)