Power in Your Trash

by Green Jobs Ready on February 28, 2011

Landfill gas projects are on the rise across the country as more and communities turn trash into power.  The projects have shown so much success and promise that even the U.S. Military has jumped on board, announcing that it will convert landfill gas into renewable energy at its Fort Benning, Ga. Base.  After years of domestic destruction in the search for power and profit, the U.S. government is finally developing transformative energy projects that will help end our need to harvest fossil fuels.

The U.S. Department of Defense is executing the project with Southern Research Institute, using technology that comes from California-based FlexEnergy, a cleantech firm that works on converting greenhouse gases into clean energy.

USA Today reports that, “Nationwide, the number of landfill gas projects, which convert methane gas emitted from decomposing garbage into power, jumped from 399 in 2005 to 519 last year.”

In support, President Obama has even made Recovery Act funds available for the projects, alongside promoting clean energy through wind, solar, and nuclear power development.

How exactly does the technology work?  The EPA explains:

Landfill gas is created when microorganisms cause organic waste, such as food wastes and paper, to decompose in landfills. Landfill gas is composed of about fifty percent methane. Carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) make up the remainder. Landfill gas escapes into the air unless it is collected and burned. In landfill gas energy projects, landfill gas is burned in boilers, reciprocating engines, and combustion turbines to produce electricity.

EPA also lists several positive environmental impacts:

  • Producing electricity from landfill gas avoids the need to use non-renewable resources to produce the same amount of electricity. In addition, burning landfill gas prevents the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.
  • Engines or combustion turbines that burn landfill gas to produce energy typically require negligible amounts of water.
  • The collection of landfill gas involves drilling wells into landfills, which does not affect local bodies of water.
  • Landfill gas technologies do not produce any substantial amount of solid waste while creating electricity.
  • Burning landfill gas to produce electricity has little impact on land resources. While the equipment used to burn the landfill gas and generate electricity does require space, it can be located on land already occupied by the existing landfill, thus avoiding any additional use of land.

Further, landfill gas energy is considered renewable and sustainable because it is continuously being replenished and can be used far into the future.

America is beginning to see promise in securing a sustainable future as people across the country participate in converting their trash into power.  After several fossil fuel disasters, including the Tennessee coal ash spill, the Massey coal mine disaster, the Gulf oil spill, and mountaintop coal mining, we are finally seeing a government that is beginning to show commitment to eliminating our dependency on fossil fuels and the destruction that comes along with it.

To find ways you can get involved renewable energy projects such as the ones mentioned above, visit GreenJobsReady.

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fusion, japan, nuclear power, alternative energy
March 18, 2011 at 4:41 am

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