All About Chemistry... 2011 and beyond

Related Stories

How to make a profit from rotting garbage

Landfills can make a profit from all their rotting waste and a new patent explains exactly how to make the most out of the stinky garbage sites.

Decomposing trash produces methane, a landfill gas that can be used to produce electricity or heat. Since methane is a greenhouse gas and most landfills don't produce enough of it to make energy production worthwhile, many dumpsites burn, or flare, the methane away so that the harmful gas does not escape into the atmosphere.

But a process invented by Russell Chianelli, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at The University of Texas at El Paso, shows how landfills can up their methane production to turn a profit.

"We're wasting valuable methane by flaring it off," Chianelli said. "This process can help landfills make plenty of electricity to turn a profit by selling it back to the electric company."

The patented process involves capturing and recycling the exhaust gas that's produced from generating electricity with landfill methane. The gas can be used to heat the landfill and to provide additional moisture -- conditions that can boost the landfill's overall methane production. Carbon dioxide found within the captured exhaust gas will also release additional methane once recycled within the landfill.

The invention takes this methane-boosting process a step further by suggesting that part of the recycled exhaust gas be used to cultivate algae.

Chianelli explained, "What makes the methane in landfills are the organisms that are feeding on decomposing waste. So what we need to do is feed them even more for more methane production."

Half of the cultured algae can be pumped down within the landfill to further increase methane output, while the other portion of algae could go toward creating biodiesel fuels.

"What's great about this is that it's a clean process," Chianelli said. "Nothing goes to waste; it's a zero-discharge system."

Dubbed the "Landfill Methane Enhancement Process," the patent (No. 8,956,854) was issued by the United State Patent and Trademark Office on Feb. 17, 2015.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas at El Paso. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Share this story with your friends!

Social Networking

Please recommend us on Facebook, Twitter and more:

Other social media tools

Global Partners

Tell us what you think of Chemistry 2011 -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?

About us

Chemistry2011 is an informational resource for students, educators and the self-taught in the field of chemistry. We offer resources such as course materials, chemistry department listings, activities, events, projects and more along with current news releases.

Events & Activities

Are you interested in listing an event or sharing an activity or idea? Perhaps you are coordinating an event and are in need of additional resources? Within our site you will find a variety of activities and projects your peers have previously submitted or which have been freely shared through creative commons licenses. Here are some highlights: Featured Idea 1, Featured Idea 2.

About you

Ready to get involved? The first step is to sign up by following the link: Join Here. Also don’t forget to fill out your profile including any professional designations.

Global Partners