Because of the consistent increase of waste, especially from urban areas, landfills around the world grow larger every day. That is why finding renewable energy sources and developing technologies in the field of waste management has become more important than ever.
One developer has found a way to exploit the mountains of waste sitting in landfills by transforming biogas. Landfill biogas consists of a mix of different gasses and is produced when bacteria ferment plant materials and other waste products. The company Gruppo AB of Orzinuovi, Italy, a global player in cogeneration, has developed landfill gas plants that turn biogas into energy and ultimately electricity.
These landfill gas systems have been implemented recently at two different sites in Brazil, one at Caieiras in the Sáo Paulo region, the other at Minas do Leáo in the Rio Grande do Sul region of the country. The landfill plants work by dehumidification the landfill biogas and treating the gas with activated carbon. After completion of the treatment, the newly harvested energy is then led to the electricity main grid.
Construction stages of the cogeneration plant installed in the landfill in Minas do Leão, Brazil
According to Gruppo AB, the landfill site in Caieiras is one of the world’s largest. It serves 13 million people and receives about 10-12 thousand tons of trash daily. The plant consists of three lines, each with a capacity of 7,500 m². Twenty- one of Gruppo AB’s Ecomax® 14 landfill systems are at work in Caieiras right now, but the number of operating systems is planned to increase over the next years to a maximum of 36. The cogeneration center with an overall capacity of 29,547 kWe generates electricity at the same time which is fed into the mains grid at high voltage. With completion of the plant in Caieiras a few weeks ago, biogas is being treated and transformed into energy every day. This way, every year 300 thousand tons of carbon dioxide that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere, are being restored.
San Paolo used this project that regenerates landfill biogas to be represented at the 2015 United Nations on Climate Change Conference
A tremendous amount of the harmful greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide and methane, the major components of landfill gas, is released into the atmosphere every day around the world. The third largest amount of methane emissions in the US is caused by landfills. It is highly recommended to use this source and generate heat, electricity or sent it into natural gas pipelines after getting rid of various contaminants and components.
There are many other impressive projects in the world using waste as a valuable resource. In 2015, DC Water, for example, officially unveiled the world’s largest wastewater-to-energy project in the US. It provides a net 10 megawatts of electricity from the wastewater treatment process. Recently, the University of the West of England presented its energy generating and wastewater recycling bricks which are incorporated in buildings.