Garbage trucks powered by … garbage

While using waste methane from landfills or agricultural operations to produce electricity is becoming more common, EnergyNOW reports that Waste Management is going a step further and using the gas to power some of its garbage trucks in California.

As diesel gets more expensive, truck fleet operators around the country are considering a switch to compressed natural gas, which can be cheaper but comes with higher upfront fueling costs. And because natural gas is essentially methane, there’s no reason why waste landfill gas can’t be liquified and used in those same trucks.

The potential for landfill gas as a motor fuel is limited, however. EnergyNOW calculates that liquified methane could displace about 800 million gallons of diesel fuel per year, or about 2 percent of the total currently used.

5 thoughts on “Garbage trucks powered by … garbage

  1. Awesome, at only 2%, it’s small, but every bit counts & that should be double-counted against any potential climate/environmental impacts that methane would have if un-harvested. Other countries have been collecting landfill methane for easily a decade or more to use for peaking electricity production. At least I saw one in Oslo in 2005. Thanks for covering this Ken.

  2. @Bob – probably should have been more clear. What’s new here is WM in California is capturing and refining their own CNG from landfill gas. It’s a completely self-contained loop. Pretty fascinating.

  3. There is a great Midwest connection to this concept: Wisconsin’s Dane County landfill installed a landfill gas to CNG fueling station last year and is filling vehicles on it today. This system, developed by the Madison, WI office of Cornerstone Environmental and Dubuque, IA Unison Solutions is much smaller scale and is applicable to wastewater treatment and manure digesters. Biogas has a lot of potential as a vehicle fuel in the Midwest.

    http://www.government-fleet.com/news/story/2011/04/Dane-County-to-Fuel-County-Vehicles-with-CNG-from-Landfill.aspx

  4. Oh, I got it. I just like pulling on your chain now and again. (g)

    We recently had a talk in our office how Waste Management in other states are really getting into the alt fuel scene. Our guys are now joining in. Nice to see progress in Dane County, too.

    Good to see some one else reads “Government Fleet.”