Can The Gasses From Landfills Be Utilized?
Landfill gasses are produced when the organic materials in a landfill decompose. These gasses are composed of approximately 50% methane, a greenhouse gas that is harmful to the Ozone layer, approximately 50% Carbon Dioxide. Utilizing these gases as a renewable fuel source can serve a double benefit by providing energy and decreasing the escape of harmful methane from landfills.
More than 550 landfills in the country are currently working to harness power from the gas produced in landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there is probably that same number of other landfills that could be converted to serve the same purpose.
The benefits of energy production from landfill gasses are many. This renewable source of power can be captured and resold, decreasing the use of finite energy sources and creating jobs. The harnessing of the gas reduces the incidence of polluting methane gas being released into the atmosphere and decreases the threat of dangerous explosions and the unpleasant odor of freely escaping gas.
Facilities that utilize landfill gas for energy have strict regulations they must abide by that monitor their methane gas emissions. Usually the amount of pollutants released is less than those of landfills that simply burn off the gas. Financial incentives are in place to help entice more landfills to join the effort in establishing this energy source.
There are many complex factors that can affect the amount and duration of usable gasses for energy from landfills, and ongoing research continues to shed more light on the subject. At this time, however, landfills and the gas they produce promise to be a viable energy source for today and tomorrow.