Toxins, leachate and biogas emissions are often cited as the three main problems of landfill. But LGI (formerly Landfill Gas Industries) is turning a problem into a solution.
The Queensland-based company is capturing biogas from landfill and using it to generate electricity and significantly reduce local government greenhouse gas emissions. Adam Bloomer, CEO, Founder and Managing Director, estimates the company has built about 50 biogas fields on landfields in its 13-year history and has long-term contracts for 26 of them.
The majority of LGI’s systems are built for regional councils at no cost and registered to generate carbon credits, helping councils reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
“Usually, landfills make up to 70-80 per cent of a council’s emissions,” Adam says. “With biogas extraction on their landfill, the overall reduction in their emissions is massive. In this world with an increased focus on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) credentials, as well as net zero, it’s an incredible deal for councils.”
As waste in a landfill decomposes, the anaerobic environment encourages the propagation of methanogenic bacteria – methane and carbon dioxide – the resultant by-products.
Adam says LGI sinks vertical wells into the landfill and applies vacuum to encourage the biogas towards the well. The wells are connected to a manifold station which are tuned and tested regularly for maximum biogas extraction and to maintain the health of bacteria in the landfill.
“You need to look after your bugs to keep the methane extraction balanced,” he says. “If you kill the bacteria off you lose methane production.”
Under vacuum, supplied by a flaring unit, the methane content of the biogas is burned off, reducing its global warming effect.
Adam readily admits that carbon dioxide and water are released during the flaring process, but says they are far less damaging emissions than from methane.
“Methane has a global warming potential 28 times that of carbon dioxide,” he says.
To create electricity the biogas is further refined. Adam describes the biogas from landfill as “sour” which needs to be cooled to a low temperature to drop the moisture content and in turn water soluble contaminants.
LGI has also successfully introduced siloxane removal systems (SRS). These systems reduce silicon-based compounds that cause severe wear in generating units. LGI pioneered this system integration in Australia.
“Silicon in our waste streams form a silicon glass-like compound that builds up and increases wears in generators,” Adam says. “When LGI integrated siloxane into biogas extraction on landfills it was a big turning point.”
He says LGI is unique in that it is completely vertically integrated. LGI designs, installs and maintains biogas fields. The company builds its own flares and biogas extraction equipment and if there’s enough biogas on site, will build a power station to produce dispatchable, renewable energy.
Adam, and LGI, have had several turning points since the company was established in 2009.
Adam was involved in power stations across Australia before joining a national waste business. When he branched out on his own, he “just wanted to install biogas extraction systems”.
“We won a large contract for our first installation contract, and it led to a bit of a boon,” he says.
LGI still holds the contract for that first installation, a biogas system for three Moreton Bay Regional Council sites. The company now has teams in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT. Its biggest power station to date is in Canberra.
“If there’s a regulatory requirement to capture biogas from your landfill, it will affect your ability to create Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCUs),” he says.
It’s that ability to create ACCUs that allows LGI to install best practice systems for councils.
“We capture and put the biogas through a flare, which under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) methodology for combustion we can create ACCUs,” Adam says. “We either contract those back to the government through reverse auctions or sell them. The open or spot market for ACCUs has increased in the past 12-18 months as companies are very active in reducing their own emissions.
“There’s a real market out there for carbon offsets.”
For more information, visit: www.lgi.com.au