Larimer County Landfill Gas Project
The Larimer County Landfill is located roughly a mile south of Fort Collins, Colorado. This facility began collecting municipal solid waste in 1986. The cities within Larimer County already had an active recycling program that separates paper, glass and metals, but in September 2009, to address the landfill’s methane emissions, an active gas collection system with 41 wells was voluntarily installed. This system collects the gas and pipes it to the landfill gas processing facility, where a blower sends the gas through a condensate pump and on to an open flare.
The emission reductions occur when the methane in the landfill gas is destroyed in the flare and is converted to carbon dioxide, which has a much lower global warming potential than methane. The landfill gas collection and combustion system generates annual emission reductions on the order of 20,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent.
Roughly 3,000 people live within a 2-mile radius of Larimer County Landfill and benefit from improved air conditions as a result of the project. In addition to methane and carbon dioxide, landfill gas contains numerous other volatile compounds (VOCs), some of which are listed as hazardous air pollutants that pose threats to human health, such as respiratory irritation, central nervous system damage and cancer. The combustion of landfill gas destroys many of these hazardous air pollutants.
In 2010, a 1.6 megawatt electric generator was installed to use the captured gas to generate renewable power on site. The power is sold to the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, and the utility uses the landfill’s generated electricity to service its customers. Any excess collected gas is combusted in the open flare.
The innovation of this county landfill project has ensured that the local communities enjoy a reliable power source for years to come without the negative impacts of harmful environmental toxins.