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US landfill gas power system earns EPA award

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has honoured the city of Sioux Falls and ethanol producer POET for a landfill gas project that provides significant amounts of energy for process steam at POET Biorefining’ site at Chancellor, South Dakota, US.

The city’s 11-mile pipeline, completed in February 2009, transports methane from waste at the Sioux Falls Regional Sanitary Landfill to the Chancellor plant. That methane, in conjunction with a waste wood boiler, produces process steam for ethanol production. The methane currently offsets 15% of the plant’s energy needs and, as the supply of landfill gas increases, that is expected to double by 2025.

POET pays the city for the methane, providing a revenue source from gas that had previously been flared at the landfill.

Methane has more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Instead of allowing the gas to escape into the air, it can be captured, converted, and used as an energy source through projects such as this. Using landfill gas also reduces odours and other hazards associated with emissions, while preventing methane from migrating into the atmosphere and contributing to local air pollution and global climate change.