GARBAGE rotting at the Brady Road Landfill is generating gas of a sufficient quality to generate electricity or serve as heating fuel.
Engineers in charge of the long-delayed methane-capture project at the City of Winnipeg landfill say they're confident the gas will eventually have a commercial use.
Three weeks ago, the landfill began flaring off methane collected at the landfill at a rate of 1,000 cubic feet per minute, which is enough gas to heat at least 1,500 homes.
'This will be the warmest spot in Winnipeg. You'll find songbirds taking refuge here'
The $7-million city-provincial project, originally announced in 2002, called for the captured methane to be used as fuel.
The city remains on track to achieve that goal, once a year of testing is conducted to ensure there is enough high-quality gas flowing out of the dump to satisfy a potential private-sector partner, project manager Irvin Slike said Monday.
"Once you know what you have, then you're in a position to sit down and negotiate with a partner," Slike said following a media event that saw Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and Manitoba Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh praise the project.
Earlier attempts to find a private-sector partner to use the methane failed because both sides could only guess at the quality and quantity of the landfill gas, he explained.
Methane is the byproduct of anaerobic decomposition, the process by which organic material breaks down in an environment with no oxygen. As a greenhouse gas, methane is considered more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which is the byproduct of aerobic decomposition.
Given the potential harm posed by methane, simply burning off the gas is preferable to allowing it to rise into the air from a landfill. Hence the construction of the flaring tower at Brady Road.
Over the past year, the city has dug 42 methane wells into closed-off sections of the landfill and buried seven kilometres of underground pipes to carry the gas to a flaring tower. The gas is then consumed at 871 C in the only enclosed flare in Manitoba, Slike said.
Three separate temperature gauges ensure no methane escapes from the tower, which will generate enough heat this winter to keep a small section of Brady Road free of snow.
"This will be the warmest spot in Winnipeg," he said of the gravel pad around the flaring tower. "You'll find songbirds taking refuge here."
The gas consumed by the flare, according to preliminary tests, is 53 per cent methane, Slike said. That's eight per cent above the minimum requirement to use landfill gas as fuel.
But even if the gas is simply flared off, the capture project will still eliminate the equivalent of 20,000 automobiles worth of greenhouse-gas emissions, Katz and Mackintosh said.
The flare should also reduce the odours emanating from the landfill, the mayor said.