Cleanergy launches bioenergy system for old, closed landfills

By Cleanergy | June 26, 2014

Both the environment and organizations operating closed landfills have received a boost with the launch of Cleanergy’s GasBox.

An industry first, Cleanergy’s GasBox has been specifically developed to generate electricity and heat from methane gas being emitted at the more than 1,900 landfill sites in Europe that are more than 10 years old.

Currently, the methane gas at these sites—produced by the decomposition of organic matter—is burnt at source to prevent it from entering the atmosphere. Because methane warms the earth’s atmosphere 20-30 times more than carbon dioxide, burning it—with the resultant carbon dioxide emissions—is the least worst option for the environment.

The European Union Landfill Directive of 1999 states that flaring is only an option if it is impossible to extract energy from the methane gas. But up until today, older landfill sites have often broken these directives because the gas combustion engines traditionally used at newer landfills where methane levels are above 40 percent simply cannot produce electricity from lower grade, “dirty” methane.

Cleanergy’s GasBox addresses this specific problem and is the only technology able to produce both electricity and heat from a methane gas concentration down to 18 percent. This biogas is produced from manure, food waste and plant residues at landfill sites as well as at waste water plants and on farms.

With an return on investmetn of just 3-5 years, Cleanergy’s GasBox is already commercially deployed at several locations in Sweden (in collaboration with the Swedish Energy Agency) and at the Yggeset waste disposal park in Norway. Energy produced by the GasBox is being used to power equipment and to heat and electrify buildings.

Cleanergy’s GasBox has also been installed at closed landfill sites in Norfolk, Shropshire, Yorkshire in the U.K., and also in Poland, as part of the ACUMEN project. The Assessing, Capturing and Utilising Methane from Expired and Non-Operational Landfill project is being led by the Environment Agency and funded by an EU environmental program. Cleanergy’s GasBox is the first power technology that has been selected for evaluation. More details about ACUMEN can be found here. 

Thorleif Eriksen, manager at the Yggeset recycling park in Asker, Norway, said, “Our landfill is 32 years old and now producing low-grade methane. Cleanergy’s GasBox was quick and painless to install. It generates enough electricity to heat and power our needs. We were somewhat skeptical at the start of this trial but are now convinced about the performance—and recommend the GasBox to industry colleagues worldwide.”

Installed inside a modular container, Cleanergy’s GasBox is an autonomous and flexible stirling engine unit. Also inside the container is a real-time power management system with remote access; a fuel pipe; plus a heat and electricity connection to a house/factory/warehouse with optional grid functionality.

Headquartered in Sweden and established in 2008, Cleanergy specializes in the development, manufacturing and deployment of energy solutions for the solar and gas industries.

Anders Koritz, CEO at Cleanergy said, “There are a myriad of combined-heat-and-power (CHP) systems available for generating electricity and heat from newer landfill sites, but once the quality of the methane decreases, the only option has been flaring. We have worked hard to solve this problem and our GasBox extends power production at landfill sites by around 20 years. We are driving the future of biogas power and turning waste into wealth.”

The Cleanergy board includes Bo Dankis, the current chairman of the Swedish Trade Council, and the former Swedish finance minister, Pär Nuder.

To date the company has raised more than $60 million. Investors include Jim O'Neill, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and the renowned Wallenberg family of Swedish industrialists, along with the Nobel Foundation.