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California Landfill LNG Project Begins Fueling

A major waste management company and global gas engineering firm announced last Monday they were producing renewable vehicle fuel from a Northern California landfill where they have the world's largest landfill gas-to-liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant. The Gas Technology Institute and several public agencies in California contributed to the project.

Houston-based Waste Management Inc., North America's largest waste services company, and New Jersey-based Linde North America, part of The Linde Group, a leading global gases and engineering company, said their joint venture company has begun producing renewable vehicle fuel at the $15.5 million facility at the Altamont Landfill near Livermore, CA. The landfill gas-to-LNG is being used in fueling trash trucks and other heavy equipment.

The project is touted by the partners as a model for what can be replicated at landfills and dairy farms across the nation, wherever enough biomethane can be captured, cleaned and liquefied. Waste Management operates 277 landfills nationwide and operates many of its trash trucks on LNG.

Linde built and operates the plant, which purifies and liquefies landfill gas that Waste Management collects from the natural decomposition of organic waste in the landfill. The plant is designed to produce up to 13,000 gallons of LNG a day -- enough to fuel 300 of Waste Management's 485 LNG-powered waste and recycling collection vehicles in 20 California communities. Since the commissioning process began in September, the plant has produced 200,000 gallons of LNG, the partners said Monday.

"The Altamont landfill gas-to-LNG facility enables us to recover and utilize a valuable source of clean energy in another practical way, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Conventional LNG is already a clean-burning and economically viable alternative fuel for our collection trucks," said Duane Woods, senior vice president for Waste Management's western group. "The ability to use recovered landfill gas to fuel our hauling fleet offers significant environmental benefits to the communities we serve in California."

Linde North America President Pat Murphy said landfill gas-derived LNG is a "super ultra-low carbon fuel, as designated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the Altamont project is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30,000 tons a year. Linde's expertise in designing, developing and operating purification systems and LNG plants enables us to capture energy from waste that has decomposed in the landfill and transform it into a clean renewable fuel that offsets the need for fossil fuels -- which reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions."

The Altamont facility also meets two of California Gov. Schwarzenegger's environmental directives: the Bioenergy Action Plan, which seeks to advance the use and market development of biomass as a transportation fuel, and an executive order (S-3-05), which aims to reduce the state's GHG emissions 25% by 2020, according to Murphy.

Four California agencies contributed to the Waste Management-Linde project, including the California Integrated Waste Management Board, CARB, the California Energy Commission and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The management of several of the state grants has been provided by the Gas Technology Institute, which also licensed elements of the LNG production technology used in the Altamont facility.

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