Closed-Loop Biomethane Supports Altamont Transfer Trucks
Waste Management emphasized the environment as it staged the formal opening of a new compressed natural gas fueling station at the Altamont Landfill in Livermore, Calif., east of San Francisco. The station is fed by liquefied natural gas that’s itself derived from landfill gas.
The Altamont LNG plant, a joint project of WM and Linde, is rated at 13,000 gallons per day. The award-winning facility opened in 2009 and has to date produced more than 8.1 million gallons of LNG.
WM has found that it prefers CNG for its operations, both for collection vehicles and for the transfer trucks that collect garbage from area hubs, bring it to the Altamont landfill, and fuel with CNG there.
The transfer trucks “can now refuel with ‘trash gas,’” said Ken Lewis, Waste Management’s area director of disposal operations. “It’s not exactly the ‘Back to the Future’ scenario, but close. We use the biomethane created from decaying trash to power our transfer vehicles.”
‘Complete and in Operation’
“We’re proud to say it’s complete and in operation,” Lewis said at the Altamont event.
“It’s as close to a closed-loop system as you can get,” said Richard Battersby, executive director of East Bay Clean Cities Coalition. “It’s just a beautiful thing. For Waste Management to take this step is huge.”
WM says that 22 natural gas-fueled transfer tractor vehicles take 24 tons of garbage each between the Davis Street Transfer Station in San Leandro and Altamont.
They average four round-trips a day, traveling just under 300 miles and consuming the equivalent of 100 gallons of diesel fuel each.
Biomethane Beyond Altamont?
The company is looking at other landfill sites for natural gas fuel production and indeed has been widely expected to go with an installation half again as large as Altamont in Simi Valley, Calif., northwest of Los Angeles. Low market prices for conventional fuel have forced a delay.
“Given today’s prices it is more expensive to make LNG out of landfill gas than from pipeline gas, but there are many other benefits,” Lewis told F&F.
“Our fleet of transfer tractors consumes a total of 2,200 equivalent gallons of diesel fuel each day,” WM area fleet manager Scott Germann says in the CNG announcement. “By converting to biomethane, we not only tap a domestic fuel source, we reduce green house gas emissions by 82%.”
In addition to its 22 transfer trucks, Waste Management of Alameda County operates 112 natural gas collection vehicles from its 98th Avenue facility in Oakland to service Albany, Castro Valley, Emeryville, Hayward, the Oro Loma Sanitary District and San Ramon.
2.5 Million Gallons of Diesel Saved
The waste historically collected in these communities is deposited at the Altamont Landfill, returning as biofuel to power the fleet, WM said, adding, “Annually, the Altamont biomethane is estimated to displace 2.5 million gallons of diesel fuel and nearly 30,000 tons of GHG emissions statewide.”
Lewis said that subsequent landfill gas-based LNG plants can be engineered more economically that the first one at Livermore. “I think we’ll build another one,” he said.
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Source: Fleets & Fuels at Waste Management’s Altamont Landfill event