Landfill Garbage Methane Gas Counterpoint

One of the biomass fuels that have been given little attention is methane gas generated from garbage in Waste Management dumps. Waste Management is converting methane gas from rotting trash into electricity power. The gas powers turbines that turn generators, producing electricity for a power grid. In the U.S. the number of methane gas projects has grown to 510 and generate more than 1.563 megawatts per year, or supply energy to power 1.6 million homes. A landfill will produce gas for 20 to 30 years, and is a reliable consistent source. Economics, energy legislation mandates, and technology advancements are the reason for the fuels development. At the present, landfill gas power cost is about the same as from wind, but is still more expensive than from coal-generated power (Cents per kilowatt-hour: Coal=3 to 8, Landfill gas=7 to 10, Wind=5 to 11).

Methane is the second most important green house gas after carbon dioxide. Reducing its emissions in the atmosphere, and using it for energy power generation and a component of natural gas are good reasons landfill methane-electricity projects made up 10.8% of the country’s renewable energy output. The EPA says, landfill methane becomes a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the principle greenhouse gas, when it rises in the atmosphere.

The 1.6 billion tons of garbage, 550 lbs per person, is a growing potential source for clean energy. The methane generated in the landfills should be used for energy power instead of being released to the atmosphere.

Other Reference info:

EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP)

A look at Waste Management and landfill gas energy resources

Sources of Energy-the fossil fuels

FEC harnesses methane gas to create energy

Garbage to gas

Fun Facts about Fungi

California garbage trucks fueled by…

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Biomass Fuel, Energy, Power Counterpoint

Biomass is a term being more frequently used for renewable fuel, energy and power made from any organic material from plants or animals. Sources are organic crops, plants, and trees, agricultural food and feed crops, and residues from plants, crops, wood, and animals-in other words what is left over or scraps. The usable by-products are gas additives (ethanol and biodiesel), methane gas (burned as fuel), and organic fibers and wood (for heat and generating electricity).

I became more interested in biomass after previously covering the following topics:

Solar Power/ Energy

Wind Turbine Power

Natural Gas Car Fuel

U.S. Oil Reserves

Price of Oil

Corn Food Fuel

Car Fuel Efficiency

Global Warming and Energy Reserves

Electrical Utilities are facing new rules requiring them to generate 20% of their power from renewable resources by 2020. Solar and wind power has been considered by most utilities and many don’t have the resources, or have run into legislative roadblocks. With all Utilities being required to meet quotas, they are now considering, and building, “Biomass” Power Plants, since they can get significant federal tax credits.

Most studies are based on data such as that from “The Engineering Toolbox”.  The data shows that the biomass energy is free, since the process is considered nearly carbon neutral, because the plants only emit the carbon they absorbed while they were growing. The time and volume of usage is neglected-it is not explained that more is used than grown, and in between there are fewer trees to absorb the carbon dioxide. The real world is more like Fig. 3 Plot “Pounds of CO2 per KWH” of the article “How to measure fuel efficiency, energy costs, and carbon emissions for home heating”.  Both coal and wood have the same high-level carbon footprint.

An interesting article, “Biomass Energy Facts”, is a good comprehensive worthwhile list. It is not mentioned that renewable energy in 2007 was 7% of the US energy supply, and of this 3% is biomass. In 2020 20% of US energy is to be by renewable, with a good part of the increase by biomass, meaning a much-increased usage of wood from trees that takes time to replace and is now a big source of CO2 absorption.

Of major concern is that states (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Missouri, etc.) are now proceeding with biomass energy projects based on the process being considered nearly carbon neutral because the plants only emit the carbon they absorbed while they were growing. Is this a fact-based conclusion? And will the increased biomass usage have any effect on the natural cycling of CO2 because it takes time for volume replacement?

Other biomass information of interest:

Biomass Emissions-Air Emissions from Modern Wood Energy Systems

Massachusetts Forest and Environment Threatened

Hybrid Cars Counterpoint

 

If you have read my other Counterpoint articles, you might be wondering about Hybrid cars for better fuel efficiency and environmental concerns. I also considered the Toyota and Honda models when I bought my last car. Unless you are willing to pay more for a hi-tech car, with little improvement over conventional car choices, then read on for some fact investigation.

 

It’s not that we don’t want to do our part to help protect the environment. We’re all for burning less fossil fuel. I found out the same as this article referenced that a Honda or Toyota Hybrid estimated 36-45mpg and cost approximately $22,000. I settled on a Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix) that gets 29mpg and cost $16,000. At 15000 miles/year of driving and $3.80/gal of gas that gives a savings of $382-698/yr. To make up for the increased cost of $6000 would take 8-15 years. The Vibe had considerably more carrying space (people and luggage) and was also roomier and simpler construction. It is expected that it should still be around after 8-15 years.

 

A good article to explain the Toyota Prius (now the largest selling hybrid car) is “An introduction by the U.S. Department of Energy to commercially available advanced vehicle technologies TECHNICAL SNAPSHOT featuring the Toyota Prius.” It explains how a hybrid car (Toyota Prius) works, the innovative features, and the performance. Another article is “How Hybrid Cars work.”

 

This article explains some “Hybrid Cars-Pros and Cons.”

 

This article gives “Hybrid Cars-Feedback” from owners of hybrid cars. Most are happy with their car and would buy another. Another article gives “Toyota Prius Hybrid testimonials and reviews.” It should be pointed out that this is only about 1% of the car market.

 

Some owners are disappointed in their gas mileage from the article “Hybrid Mileage Comes Up Short.” Their were several owners and articles that fell in this category.

 

This article gives reasons why the “Toyota Prius Falls Short.”

 

Look at this article on “Are Hybrid Cars Worth It?”

 

Consider the article “Hybrid Cars vs Gas Cars –Pros and Cons.”

 

This article covers “Prius Misconceptions.”

 

This article covers “Hybrid Industrial Market Trends” and why the cost to produce a hybrid may result in a future low hybrid market.

 

Other interesting articles:

 

  1. All about hybrid cars.
  2. Hybrid Car Review.
  3. Hybrid Cars Loosing Fuel Efficiency.

 

There was not much mentioned about the hybrid batteries and their cost. Most are made in Japan (little US technology) and manufacturers have 8 yr or 100000 mi warranties. Since hybrids have been sold, there have been few battery problems or failures.

 

The bottom line on hybrid cars is now your own personal priorities. Do you want a hi-tech car? Do you want a higher mpg car? Do you want an environmental friendly car? Do you mind paying higher car prices, or depend on the government for incentives? You can do almost the same with a smaller efficient gas car (not SUV). But will there be an expanding market for the Hybrid Car (not so far)?

Of interest are the candidate’s views on technological issues: Energy, Climate change, Space program, skilled worker shortage, and technology.