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Largest Landfill Gas-to-LNG Plant Set in CA

What is purported to be the world's largest plant to convert landfill methane gas to liquefied natural gas (LNG) for use in fueling trash trucks and other heavy equipment is getting ready to open later this year at a Northern California trash site, according to project partners New Jersey-based Linde North America and Waste Management Corp.

The project in the Altamont Pass southeast of San Francisco-Oakland's East Bay Area 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. Houston-based Waste Management operates 277 landfills nationwide and operates many of its trash trucks on LNG, a spokesperson told NGI.

Altamont is one of several LNG-biomethane projects around the world in which Linde is participating, according to a spokesperson for the company, which is a supplier of industrial, specialty and medical gases and engineering products and services.

"Biomethane is a truly renewable and readily available green source of high-quality fuel," said Bryan Luftglass, Linde North America's energy segment manager. Acknowledging that it is still an emerging commodity, Luftglass said the fuel's "economic and environmental value is rapidly being recognized."

When commercially operable later this year, the Altamont project will produce 3 MMcf/d of landfill gas that is turned into 13,000 gal/d of LNG, or the equivalent of more than 1 MMcf/d for transportation fuel to supply up to 300 trucks. The LNG produced annually will amount to 4 million gal.

LNG will be transported by tanker trucks to fueling stations throughout California where it will be used by trash collection trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles. "LNG burns in cleaner natural gas engines that have 20% less carbon emissions than diesel engines," the landfill partners said. "This project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 30,000 tons annually."

In the landfill gas-to-methane process trash-produced gas with about 50% methane is first cleaned through compression, chilling and absorption before the purified gas is fed through a liquefier taking the gas to its minus-260-degree F temperature that turns it into LNG. The LNG is then stored in a tank for trucks that come to haul it to various fueling stations.

There are some emissions from the process, the proponents said, but they are minimal.

Linde will be commissioning a similar plant later this summer outside of London.

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