Natural gas from organic waste is being endorsed as an alternative transportation fuel by New York City-based nonprofit Energy Vision (EV) and California technology firm CALSTART.

In the report, “Renewable Natural Gas (RNG): the Solution to a Major Transportation Challenge,” the researchers concluded that RNG as a vehicle fuel is “technologically viable” as an alternative to petroleum-based fuels in transportation. However, economic and regulatory barriers remain.

Citing eight projects, including one at an Indiana dairy that compresses RNG for its trucks,(see Daily GPI, July 26), the report focuses of supplies made from organic wastes discarded by homes, industries and agricultural operations. The wastes are deposited in oxygen-free environments, such as landfills or manufactured anaerobic digester tanks where the materials decompose and emit biogases.

The collection and refinement of the captured gases makes a fuel similar to fossil natural gas, without drilling or traditional processing. “RNG can be blended with fossil natural gas or it can replace it,” an EV spokesperson said.

The report outlines nine major obstacles to communities and companies seeking to produce RNG on a commercial basis as a vehicle fuel. There are costs from constructing the anaerobic digesters and installing the refinement or conditioning technology to clean the gas. There are also existing standards required for use and transportation of vehicular fuels.

Currently producing biogas is tax deductible if it is used in electric generation, but not so for transportation, according to the report. The report suggests that RNG could be marketed from the dual standpoint of helping solve the U.S. and global problems of waste disposal and the need for alternatives to petroleum-based transportation.

“We can turn this country’s organic waste burden into a clean vehicle fuel solution,” said EV President Joanna Underwood. “Fossil-based natural gas and RNG used as vehicle fuels are the only options for displacing significant amounts of oil.”

Underwood urged the Obama administration and Congress to “aggressively embrace” an RNG strategy in transportation as part of a comprehensive national energy plan. “Congress can achieve measurable progress in moving toward this country’s key clean air, climate change, energy, national security, economic and job creation goals.”

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