Landfill Gas-to-Energy

Most of the waste generated ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and produces landfill gas. The landfill gas is approximately 50 percent methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change. However, methane is also a reliable and renewable fuel source that can be collected and provide many benefits:

  • Serves local demand for "green energy"
  • Reduces landfill mass
  • Reduces the release of methane, which contributes to global warming
  • Reduces odors

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 325 landfill gas to energy projects exist across the United States. Waste Management is an industry leader in utilizing the innovative technology to beneficially convert landfill gas into a source of energy. In June of 2003, Toro Energy, Inc. of Dallas Texas started a medium BTU plant at American Landfill. The site produces enough gas to heat 6,155 households per day.


The plant consists of the following components:

  • Four stage compressor unit
  • Filtration units
  • Cooling units
  • Distribution line



Landfill gas is compressed through a high-pressure electrical compressor in the range of 600 psi. After two stages of compression, the gas flows through a series of filtration units that remove hydrogen sulfide and seloxane within the gas. After successful filtration, the gas flows through the remaining two stages of the compressor. This is followed by cooling the gas through a cooling chamber, followed by a six inch pressure distribution line, which is approximately nine miles long.

The gas plant is equipped with sophisticated electrical control and gas chromatograph units that analyze gas quality at different stages throughout the treatment process and ensure pipeline quality gas is maintained. The state-of-the-art control installed throughout the process ensures that gas is cleaned and prevents any emissions from the plant.

American Landfill Gas Production

Approximate gas production per day = 4,000,000 cubic feet
Average Btu = 500 per cubic feet
Estimated daily production = 2,000,000,000
Btu Average consumption per household in the Midwest = 324,932 per day*

* Gas consumption source: Energy Information Administration, Office of Energy Marketes and End Use, Forms EIA-457A-G of the 1997 Residential Energy Consumption Survey