Nations join methane partnership

By Marc Hequet
An international group promoting the capture and use of methane from landfills and other sources announced in March that Mongolia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand had joined the group.

Methane to Markets, or M2M, aims to capture methane for use as a clean-burning fuel while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. The group focuses on animal waste, landfills, coal mines, and oil and gas systems.

The addition of the four nations in March brought total M2M membership to 25 nations or groups, including the United States. Earlier in March, the European Union joined M2M, including the biomass expertise of its 27 member nations, some of which were separate M2M members already (Germany, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom).

The sharply broadened membership will help M2M promote the 91 methane-capture projects it showcased at a trade show in Beijing last year, which 750 people from 34 nations attended, said Paul Gunning, chief of the U. S. EPA's non-carbon-dioxide programs. "The broader the engagement we have from the global community, the more the partnership will benefit," Gunning told Biomass Magazine.

Even before the EU's addition, M2M member nations represented 60 percent of the waste-methane sources that the group targets, according to the M2M Web site. The 91 projects on exhibit at the conference in Beijing would reduce annual methane emissions by the equivalent of 11.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2015, the organization said.

One proposed project would draw methane from a 127,000-pig farrow-to-finish swine operation in the Mato Grosso province of Brazil. The existing disposal method is to apply the manure to nearby land. The proposed methane-recovery system is a covered lagoon digester. The resulting biogas will be burned to generate electricity. The estimated average reduction in carbon dioxide per year is equivalent is 71,730 metric tons.

Another initiative would capture methane from a sanitary landfill in Chernivtsi, Ukraine. Opened in 1995, the landfill accepted more than 82,000 tons of waste in 2006 and is expected to close in 2012 with an estimated 1.3 million tons of waste. Preliminary biogas modeling estimates that 544 cubic meters of biogas per hour at 50 percent methane is available now for capture. That figure will rise to a peak of approximately 696 cubic meters per hour shortly after the landfill closes in 2012. Gas from the landfill may be used to generate electricity. The estimated average reduction in carbon dioxide per year would be 37,778 metric tons.

M2M was launched in 2004 in Washington, D.C., by 14 national governments that signed on as partners. More information about the partnership is at