Air Quality

Published on May 8th, 2008 | by Sarah Lozanova

35

Fuel from Trash Will Power California Garbage Trucks

May 8th, 2008 by  

landfill gas fuel300 garbage collection trucks in California will soon be fueled by the same trash that they haul. Landfill gas will be purified and liquefied, producing up to 13,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) daily.

This facility at Waste Management’s (WMI: NYSE) Altamont Landfill in Livermore, California will begin operation in 2009. It comes with a price tag of $15.5 million, with grants providing $1.4 million.

Cleaner Fuel

Waste Management is the largest waste management company in North America and operates the largest US fleet of heavy-duty collection trucks. The company has a goal to reduce fleet emissions by 15% by 2020.

The new facility will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30,000 tons per year, according to Linde North America. LNG is a cleaner burning transportation fuel that emits less nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and particulates than diesel-fueled vehicles.

Duane Woods, senior vice president, Western group of Waste Management, said, “This will be the largest plant of its kind and we hope to break new ground by producing commercial quantities. Natural gas is already the cleanest burning fuel available for our collection trucks, and the opportunity to use recovered landfill gas offers enormous environmental benefits to the communities we serve.”

Demand for Low-carbon Fuels

California passed a law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 and other states may follow. Demand for low-carbon fuels is expected to increase significantly in California as the state starts requiring a decrease in carbon emissions. Waste Management will be ahead of the curve by having plants like this in operation, creating lucrative business opportunities.

Sarah Lozanova is passionate about the new green economy and is a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Energy International Quarterly, ThinkGreen.com, Triple Pundit, Green Business Quarterly, Renewable Energy World, and Green Business Quarterly. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative.

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Photo Credit: Waste Management


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About the Author

is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Sarah's experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.



  • As in these days of Global financial crisis such methods are valuable and have to be used.

  • S.R. Morbley

    It’s no surprised that Waste Management’s developing
    a project of making a fuel source out of the garbage they collect.
    I’m convinced tht energy processing is as much of
    the objective of Waste Management as trash collecting.
    That’s why I make a policy of buying one share of WM
    a week.

  • Heinz Wachtlinge

    Seems they could use the garbage to generate electricity by burning it instead of putting it in a landfill,it would generate the power we need and solve the constant landfill problem

  • Dakota

    WOW! this is great for my pursasive speach! thanks! this is amazing i just had this idea a lil bit ago then my teacher Mr.Hendler told me about it! its awesome cuz we can counter 2 different problems at the same time… eventually we can solv the problem for trash and gas at the same time!!!

  • Dakota

    WOW! this is great for my pursasive speach! thanks! this is amazing i just had this idea a lil bit ago then my teacher Mr.Hendler told me about it! its awesome cuz we can counter 2 different problems at the same time… eventually we can solv the problem for trash and gas at the same time!!!

  • Response to Alex:

    I recommend you check out http://www.CarbonAngel.com. Carbon Angel offers a calculator to determine your carbon footprint, as well as the opportunity to buy carbon credits to offset your carbon emissions. A pretty valuable system until the industries are developed that will drastically decrease our reliance on processes that emit carbon! I’m an intern with Trust for the Future, and I highly suggest checking out Carbon Angel!

    On a more relevant note, I do believe new technologies like this trash-to-energy in CA are bringing real progress to the clean energy and energy efficiency scene, albeit it’s still happening on a small scale thus far. The biggest difference from decades past is the public awareness of the need for better energy sources, and the popular excitement pushing in that direction.

  • Response to Alex:

    I recommend you check out http://www.CarbonAngel.com. Carbon Angel offers a calculator to determine your carbon footprint, as well as the opportunity to buy carbon credits to offset your carbon emissions. A pretty valuable system until the industries are developed that will drastically decrease our reliance on processes that emit carbon! I’m an intern with Trust for the Future, and I highly suggest checking out Carbon Angel!

    On a more relevant note, I do believe new technologies like this trash-to-energy in CA are bringing real progress to the clean energy and energy efficiency scene, albeit it’s still happening on a small scale thus far. The biggest difference from decades past is the public awareness of the need for better energy sources, and the popular excitement pushing in that direction.

  • Response to Alex:

    I recommend you check out http://www.CarbonAngel.com. Carbon Angel offers a calculator to determine your carbon footprint, as well as the opportunity to buy carbon credits to offset your carbon emissions. A pretty valuable system until the industries are developed that will drastically decrease our reliance on processes that emit carbon! I’m an intern with Trust for the Future, and I highly suggest checking out Carbon Angel!

    On a more relevant note, I do believe new technologies like this trash-to-energy in CA are bringing real progress to the clean energy and energy efficiency scene, albeit it’s still happening on a small scale thus far. The biggest difference from decades past is the public awareness of the need for better energy sources, and the popular excitement pushing in that direction.

  • Sarah Lozanova

    We certainly have no shortage of energy. I agree that desert solar plants are very promising, especially solar thermal energy storage capabilities. Here is another post on that topic:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2008/03/27/solar-thermal-electricity-can-it-replace-coal-gas-and-oil/

  • Uncle B

    One more step in the de-oilification of America! Many smaller steps such as this will come on-line as oil prices rise. The OPEC countries will have secure futures for a little longer and we will be closer to freedom from them as we adapt. Fusion is a crock! We need to invest in desert solar power plants, and soon! When the military releases its research on depleted Uranium super batteries, and cars have carbon fiber in place of heavy metal bodies, practical electric cars will become a reality. Small, low pressure LFTR Thorium reactors will soon replace power supplies for hospitals, large areas of suburbia and larger hotel complexes,(see ‘Slow Poke’ reactors) but greedy government and private individuals are still standing in the way. High oil prices will apply the pressure needed to get ‘Carte Blanche’ for many solutions, now hidden from sight by unscrupulous profiteers. We are going to see the end of cheap oil, but we are no where near out of energy.

  • Uncle B

    One more step in the de-oilification of America! Many smaller steps such as this will come on-line as oil prices rise. The OPEC countries will have secure futures for a little longer and we will be closer to freedom from them as we adapt. Fusion is a crock! We need to invest in desert solar power plants, and soon! When the military releases its research on depleted Uranium super batteries, and cars have carbon fiber in place of heavy metal bodies, practical electric cars will become a reality. Small, low pressure LFTR Thorium reactors will soon replace power supplies for hospitals, large areas of suburbia and larger hotel complexes,(see ‘Slow Poke’ reactors) but greedy government and private individuals are still standing in the way. High oil prices will apply the pressure needed to get ‘Carte Blanche’ for many solutions, now hidden from sight by unscrupulous profiteers. We are going to see the end of cheap oil, but we are no where near out of energy.

  • Pingback: 3 Hidden Costs of High Oil Prices : CleanTechnica()

  • Mary

    As long as it’s not a polluting technology incineration/gasification/etc.

  • Mary

    As long as it’s not a polluting technology incineration/gasification/etc.

  • Mary

    As long as it’s not a polluting technology incineration/gasification/etc.

  • deb

    Well, I may be the negative cog in this wheel but living through the 1960s and observing all “the change” that was supposed to happen by now vs what actually happens, I’m not to excited about this news.

    The world is powered by negative souls behind the obvious scene, that likes to keep us under its control. Do you really think we will actually experience alot of better living “if” it doesn’t support and line the pockets of those behind the scenes?

    I try to pay attention mainly to my own life and how I treat others and support the good where I can. Articles like this just leave me discouraged.There are so many better choices for us on this planet but the negative is in control.

    God bless you out there though, that are still trying to be positive, take action and put your best self out there. The world would almost be unbearable without people like you and our creator.

    There is still beauty here!

  • deb

    Well, I may be the negative cog in this wheel but living through the 1960s and observing all “the change” that was supposed to happen by now vs what actually happens, I’m not to excited about this news.

    The world is powered by negative souls behind the obvious scene, that likes to keep us under its control. Do you really think we will actually experience alot of better living “if” it doesn’t support and line the pockets of those behind the scenes?

    I try to pay attention mainly to my own life and how I treat others and support the good where I can. Articles like this just leave me discouraged.There are so many better choices for us on this planet but the negative is in control.

    God bless you out there though, that are still trying to be positive, take action and put your best self out there. The world would almost be unbearable without people like you and our creator.

    There is still beauty here!

  • deb

    Well, I may be the negative cog in this wheel but living through the 1960s and observing all “the change” that was supposed to happen by now vs what actually happens, I’m not to excited about this news.

    The world is powered by negative souls behind the obvious scene, that likes to keep us under its control. Do you really think we will actually experience alot of better living “if” it doesn’t support and line the pockets of those behind the scenes?

    I try to pay attention mainly to my own life and how I treat others and support the good where I can. Articles like this just leave me discouraged.There are so many better choices for us on this planet but the negative is in control.

    God bless you out there though, that are still trying to be positive, take action and put your best self out there. The world would almost be unbearable without people like you and our creator.

    There is still beauty here!

  • deb

    Well, I may be the negative cog in this wheel but living through the 1960s and observing all “the change” that was supposed to happen by now vs what actually happens, I’m not to excited about this news.

    The world is powered by negative souls behind the obvious scene, that likes to keep us under its control. Do you really think we will actually experience alot of better living “if” it doesn’t support and line the pockets of those behind the scenes?

    I try to pay attention mainly to my own life and how I treat others and support the good where I can. Articles like this just leave me discouraged.There are so many better choices for us on this planet but the negative is in control.

    God bless you out there though, that are still trying to be positive, take action and put your best self out there. The world would almost be unbearable without people like you and our creator.

    There is still beauty here!

  • Eric

    When do the REST of us gain this technology for our employ?

    NEVER!

  • Eric

    When do the REST of us gain this technology for our employ?

    NEVER!

  • alex

    Hey! Thanks for all the great info. I was browsing through a bunch of green websites and blogs and I came across yours and found it very interesting. There are a bunch of others I like too, like the daily green, ecorazzi and earthlab.com. I especially like EarthLab.com’s carbon calculator (http://www.earthlab.com/signupprofile/). I find it really easy to use (it doesn’t make me feel guilty after I take it). Are there any others you would recommend? Can you drop me a link to your favorites (let me know if they are the same as mine).

  • alex

    Hey! Thanks for all the great info. I was browsing through a bunch of green websites and blogs and I came across yours and found it very interesting. There are a bunch of others I like too, like the daily green, ecorazzi and earthlab.com. I especially like EarthLab.com’s carbon calculator (http://www.earthlab.com/signupprofile/). I find it really easy to use (it doesn’t make me feel guilty after I take it). Are there any others you would recommend? Can you drop me a link to your favorites (let me know if they are the same as mine).

  • alex

    Hey! Thanks for all the great info. I was browsing through a bunch of green websites and blogs and I came across yours and found it very interesting. There are a bunch of others I like too, like the daily green, ecorazzi and earthlab.com. I especially like EarthLab.com’s carbon calculator (http://www.earthlab.com/signupprofile/). I find it really easy to use (it doesn’t make me feel guilty after I take it). Are there any others you would recommend? Can you drop me a link to your favorites (let me know if they are the same as mine).

  • DoIfavorLNG

    CORRECTION: ACCUMULATING TRASH IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE ACTIVITY.

  • DoIfavorLNG

    CORRECTION: ACCUMULATING TRASH IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE ACTIVITY.

  • DoIfavorLNG

    CORRECTION: ACCUMULATING TRASH IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE ACTIVITY.

  • DoIfavorLNG

    NOTE TO EDITORS: THIS IS THE HEADLINE =

    “[California] – Landfill gas will be purified and liquefied, producing up to 13,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) daily.”

    Do I favor Liquid Natural Gas (LNG)?

    Well, certainly I favor it if so little of it is used, and it is created efficiently, as described.

    The relevant description is thus:

    “Landfill gas will be purified and liquefied”

    This alternative seems good.

    This maybe better than having that already escaping, reactive gas released into our local atmosphere and lungs unconverted.

    We should consider mining the very garbage from which the gas comes. Collectively, we have deposited an enormous amount of plastics and other man-made products, many containing valuable metals and alloys. There is good reason to mine our trash, hazardous though it may be. It is not a sustainable activity.

    I would like to see the Capital equipment Investment requirements for an average retrofit-upgrade versus building new. I would like to compare gasoline futures and current infrastructure conversion costs.

  • DoIfavorLNG

    NOTE TO EDITORS: THIS IS THE HEADLINE =

    “[California] – Landfill gas will be purified and liquefied, producing up to 13,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) daily.”

    Do I favor Liquid Natural Gas (LNG)?

    Well, certainly I favor it if so little of it is used, and it is created efficiently, as described.

    The relevant description is thus:

    “Landfill gas will be purified and liquefied”

    This alternative seems good.

    This maybe better than having that already escaping, reactive gas released into our local atmosphere and lungs unconverted.

    We should consider mining the very garbage from which the gas comes. Collectively, we have deposited an enormous amount of plastics and other man-made products, many containing valuable metals and alloys. There is good reason to mine our trash, hazardous though it may be. It is not a sustainable activity.

    I would like to see the Capital equipment Investment requirements for an average retrofit-upgrade versus building new. I would like to compare gasoline futures and current infrastructure conversion costs.

  • DoIfavorLNG

    NOTE TO EDITORS: THIS IS THE HEADLINE =

    “[California] – Landfill gas will be purified and liquefied, producing up to 13,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) daily.”

    Do I favor Liquid Natural Gas (LNG)?

    Well, certainly I favor it if so little of it is used, and it is created efficiently, as described.

    The relevant description is thus:

    “Landfill gas will be purified and liquefied”

    This alternative seems good.

    This maybe better than having that already escaping, reactive gas released into our local atmosphere and lungs unconverted.

    We should consider mining the very garbage from which the gas comes. Collectively, we have deposited an enormous amount of plastics and other man-made products, many containing valuable metals and alloys. There is good reason to mine our trash, hazardous though it may be. It is not a sustainable activity.

    I would like to see the Capital equipment Investment requirements for an average retrofit-upgrade versus building new. I would like to compare gasoline futures and current infrastructure conversion costs.

  • Stay tuned, my guess is that there’s going to be plenty of alternative fuels by about 2010 and we won’t be paying more than a couple of dollars for each 100 miles we travel.

  • Stay tuned, my guess is that there’s going to be plenty of alternative fuels by about 2010 and we won’t be paying more than a couple of dollars for each 100 miles we travel.

  • Andrew

    So…. when can I get this for my car?

  • Andrew

    So…. when can I get this for my car?

  • Andrew

    So…. when can I get this for my car?

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