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Waste Management to build renewable natural gas facility

Waste Management (WM) is building a facility that will create pipeline-ready natural gas from its Milam Landfill in Fairmont City, Illinois. At a ceremony at the landfill, state, county and local officials joined the company to celebrate the groundbreaking.

The processed renewable natural gas will be injected into the pipelines of Ameren Illinois for withdrawal at other locations, including some WM facilities. Once there, it will be used to fuel truck fleets and other equipment that run on compressed natural gas (CNG). Waste Management is calling the plant the Renewable Natural Gas Facility and expects it to begin delivering gas to the pipelines in late summer 2014.

“This type of project represents an important alternative source of renewable energy that we provide straight from our landfills,” said Paul Pabor, vice president of renewable energy for WM. “While we are well known as a waste and recycling company, we’re also an energy company.”

At the landfill, on-site emissions will be reduced by the Renewable Natural Gas Facility. Since the gas will be treated, rather than burned on-site, WM anticipates about a 60 percent reduction in emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

The facility will be designed to process approximately 3,500 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) of incoming landfill gas, equivalent to 105 million British thermal units per hour. This is as much gas as it takes to fuel about 400 of WM’s CNG collection trucks each day and represents more than ten percent of the natural gas that is used in WM’s entire existing CNG fleet. Waste Management of Illinois currently has more than 100 CNG trucks in its fleet displacing about one million gallons of diesel fuel per year.

“For every diesel truck older than a 2006 model that we replace with a natural gas one, we eliminate 22 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year,” Pabor said. “These trucks also emit nearly zero air particulates, cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 25 percent and are far quieter than their predecessors.”

The Milam Renewable Natural Gas Facility will be the company’s third plant to convert landfill gas to natural gas. In California, WM has collaborated in the world’s largest plant to convert landfill gas to ultra-low-carbon liquefied natural gas (LNG). The greenhouse gas emissions associated with this fuel are more than 80 percent lower than those of diesel. It’s the cleanest fuel available for heavy-duty trucks today. The facility produces 13,000 gallons of LNG per day. In Ohio, the company processes approximately 3,000 SCFM of landfill gas and delivers it to a natural gas pipeline.

Pabor said that there are now 134 projects on WM landfills that use landfill gas to generate electricity, produce renewable gas or displace fossil fuel.