Notorious for producing the greenhouse gas, methane, and then having to flare it off to avoid the potential danger of explosions, landfills are now converting this gas to electricity that can be fed to the grid.
This September, the Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site, known as DADS, brought its waste-to-energy capabilities online, powering four V-16 Caterpillar engines that generate and sell electricity to utilities company, Xcel Energy.
Spokesmen for Waste Management, which operates DADS in partnership with the City of Denver, believe the lifespan of this waste-to-energy operation to be almost two decades. The operation now generates enough power to light up almost 3,000 houses. This number may double as the landfill waste that is processed increases and more generating engines are installed.
Four V-16 engines now exist, the electricity generating plant has been built to house up to eight V-20 engines.
The technology for powering landfill methane to generate electricity has existed for almost three decades, Steve Derus of Waste Management, says. However, as he points out, converting methane to electricity has primarily been deployed in larger landfills where the size of the operation makes it economically feasible to generate electricity, when weighed against the significant capital construction expenditure that is required.
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