Turning landfill gas into renewable energy

Resource Recovery

August 18, 2017


Did you know that Cleanaway produces enough electricity to power over 15,000 homes in Melbourne with landfill gas? This National Science Week, we explore the science and technology of turning landfill gas into power.

It starts with the landfill waste we collect. Household and business waste that cannot be recycled are sent to landfills such as the Melbourne Regional Landfill. The waste is compacted and then buried in an area no larger than a swimming pool.

Active landfill cells, where the compacted waste is buried, have special liners and covers to contain the gases and liquids produced by the decomposing waste so they do not pollute the surrounding area. The decomposing waste often produces methane, carbon dioxide and a liquid called leachate.

It is methane gas that we use. Methane is collected via gas collection wells that are deeply embedded into a landfill cell. The wells are kept in a vacuum state, encouraging the landfill gases to travel up the wells to the next stage.

The landfill gases are then sent to a nearby gas conditioning facility. This facility treats the collected landfill gas, removing moisture and other contaminants.

Once treated, the gas is sent to our gas engines and electric generators (GenSets), to be transformed into electricity. The generated electricity is then sent through our transformers, which increases its voltage in preparation for the next step

The generated electricity is now sent to the grid, ready to be delivered and used in your home.

Turning landfill gas into electricity is just one of the many ways we are recovering resources from what is thought of as waste. By combusting a greenhouse gas like methane through our gas engines, we’re also helping to fight climate change – it’s just another way we’re working to make a sustainable future possible.