SPRINGFIELD, Neb. — Foul gases emitted by a quarter-century's worth of buried garbage at an eastern Nebraska landfill could be heating homes by the end of the year.
BioResource Development plans to harvest the gases coming from the now-closed Sarpy County Landfill just northwest of Springfield. The company will clean the gases and pump the resulting renewable natural gas into Black Hills Energy's distribution network, the Omaha World-Herald reported .
"You hear a lot of negativity about hydraulic fracturing and other drilling techniques. Well, this counters that," said Paul Cammack, key accounts representative for Black Hills. "Not all gas on our system in the future will come from wells in the ground. It's also going to be coming from renewable sources which might just happen to be in every community."
BioResource Development signed its latest contract with Sarpy County after the county requested proposals in 2014 seeking a way to better control the smell of rotting waste. The county had already installed wellheads throughout its landfill to try and control the stench. But instead of collecting the gas for another use, it has been burning it off.
The company is installing new wells in addition to the county's already existing ones, to which it will apply a vacuum that allows for the direct collection of waste gases. The gases will be processed to strip out moisture, carbon dioxide and other ambient gases like nitrogen and oxygen. This leaves methane, the primary natural gas piped into homes and businesses.
"In order for us to put methane on the (Black Hills) pipeline, we have to meet the pipeline specifications, which call for clean and dry gas that is mostly methane," said Greg MacLean, president of BioResource Development. "Turns out it's a pretty complex and rigorous process to do that."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that there are more than 600 landfill gas projects in the country.