Landfill energy production operates similar to the way natural gas power plants do. Landfills could produce sufficient amounts of biogas (components of which are similar to natural gas and comprised mostly of methane) which could be refined and used as fuel for many applications that need it such as power plants.
Landfills have always been used as a place to accumulate and isolate various kinds of waste materials. These landfills are also sometimes used for the management of organic waste materials such as agricultural wastes. These organic materials and other biodegradable waste will decompose in time and later produce useful biogas.
Typical landfills are created in the smallest area possible to minimize environmental impacts. After some time, the wastes accumulate at a certain level and compaction is done to save on space and to reduce the waste’s overall volume. After compaction, landfills are covered with a layer of soil and possibly treated with some substances that can speed up the rate of decomposition.
Certain landfills could be filled with large amounts of organic material; this depends on the industry producing the waste being dumped on it. These organic materials could be anything natural that has the potential for industrial fuel use after it has undergone anaerobic digestion or fermentation. Both of these processes could produce significant amounts of biogas which could then be used as fuel for energy conversion.
The gas produced in landfills is known as landfill gas. Other types of biogas are called digester gas, marsh gas or even swamp gas, depending on the source of origin. It could be composed of 50 to 75 percent methane, 20 to 50 percent Carbon dioxide, around 10 percent Nitrogen, and less than 3 percent Hydrogen, Oxygen and Hydrogen sulphide.
Biogas is usually produced through anaerobic digestion of organic materials. Anaerobic digestion is known to produce good quality biogas and to remove pathogens that come with decaying organic materials. Biogas is also found to combust or burn in a way that is a lot cleaner than conventional fossil fuel. Compared to coal, biogas could also produce more energy, so, overall, it is a good source of fuel for industries and automobiles.
How It Works
As in the case of landfills, biogas could be produced when anaerobic conditions are created through the compaction of the waste materials and then covering them with layers of soil and other materials. The anaerobic digestion of the organic waste materials will produce biogas. The gas builds up and then gas collecting systems that have been set up could procure the gas for refinement and processing.
Landfill energy could be considered as a renewable source of energy. Moreover, it is produced from waste materials that need to be reduced into other forms; in this case, it is converted into a usable energy source. The anaerobic digestion of the waste materials ultimately reduces the volume and the amount of waste materials that accumulate in the landfill and thus helps minimize waste.