Landfill gas piped to businesses in Pennsylvania

By Lisa Gibson
Posted June 4, 2009, at 5:15 p.m. CST

Four thousand standard cubic feet of landfill gas per minute is now being pumped from Conestoga Landfill to seven businesses in Lancaster and Berks counties in Pennsylvania, providing green energy. The project is a collaborative effort among Republic Services Inc., a waste and environmental services provider, UGI Utilities, a natural gas utility company, and Granger, a renewable energy company.

A nine-mile low-pressure gas service pipeline connects to an existing pipeline to deliver the gas to Dart, Advanced Food Products, L&S Sweeteners, New Holland Concrete, Tyson Foods, Case New Holland and H.R. Ewell. Among them, the gas will help fuel 25 boilers, four hot oil heaters, four ovens, three indirect-fired heaters, two direct-fired heaters, two remote thermal oxidizers and two process water heaters. It's the largest landfill gas utilization project in Pennsylvania, one of the longest landfill gas pipelines and the largest multiple-customer project in the country.

As the garbage in landfills decomposes, it produces a gas with approximately a 50-50 mix of carbon dioxide and methane. The gas for this project is captured through a perforated well pipe and pipe gathering system before it's pulled from the landfill into the Granger facility, where it is processed and used as a fuel source piped directly to the end users, according to the companies. "Landfills start producing gas six or so years after they start accepting waste," said Peg Mulloy, manager of media relations for Republics Services. "There's a lot of science that goes into waste management. This is one of the greatest discoveries." The company operates 213 landfills, she said, and is looking to develop similar projects wherever it is feasible and where companies are interested in using the gas.

The annual reduction of greenhouse gases attributable to the Conestoga Landfill Gas Recovery Project is about the same as the annual greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 86,711 passenger vehicles, the carbon dioxide emissions from more than 1 million barrels of oil consumed, or the carbon sequestered by more than 107,600 acres of pine or fir forests, according to the companies. Annual energy savings will equate to powering nearly 14,000 average homes. The groundbreaking for the project was in spring of 2007 and it was dedicated in late May 2009.

"It's a great way to use what would be thought of as waste," Mulloy said.