Project turns landfill gas into energy that can power homes

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A green project is underway in Berkeley County to use the gas that comes from decomposing trash as an energy source.

Engineers are extracting methane gas from the landfill, and they say soon it will be used to power up homes.

Deep inside the layers of rotting trash, blowers work like a vacuum pulling out methane gas. Berkeley County engineers say they've drilled more than 70 collection wells into the landfill.

"It's actually the epitome of recycling. We're taking household waste, which through a rotting process produces a gas, with the gas can produce electricity to what? Power homes," Berkeley County Water and Sanitation Executive Director Colin Martin said.

BCWS department says it started looking into the landfill gas to energy project about two years ago. The Environmental Protection Agency has a "Landfill Methane Outreach Program," as projects like this one grow in popularity nationwide.

The EPA says LFG projects help reduce odors, reduce hazardous emissions, and prevent methane from going into the atmosphere

When the methane gas reaches a collection well, part of it is burned off, and part of it travels through a pipe to Santee Cooper's power generating station, located several yards away from the landfill.

Right now Santee Cooper is in the process of testing their green energy generators. The energy produced could be going out to homes in just a few weeks.

"It just seems the right thing to do to take that pollution out of the landfill. This is like taking 18,000 cars off the road. This is like the sequestration of pine trees about 20,000 acres. That's what we're doing to help clean up the environment," Martin said.

Berkeley County says the landfill produces enough methane gas for energy conversion to power homes in all of Moncks Corner, Goose Creek, and Hanahan, and at current rates it would last up to 27 years.

Berkeley County's project is only one of five statewide that the sanitation department is aware of. It cost the county $2.8 million to get started.

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