Resource Use

Viridor invests £2 million to transform landfill gas into transport fuel

Waste management company Viridor is putting £2 million towards an innovative new project aiming to transform landfill gas into low-carbon transport fuel.

The waste management company has signed an agreement to work with Dutch company CarbonOrO to deliver a gas clean-up system that transforms landfill gas into transport fuels in a process that also allows for successful capture of CO2.

Landfill gas is created through the action of microorganisms in landfill, and is composed of significant amounts of methane and carbon dioxide, making it a source of carbon emissions.

Viridor's Dunbar ERF site.
The new plant could generate a carbon saving of up to 380 tonnes a year compared to diesel
The project will begin with a plant installation at the company’s landfill site in Dunbar, Scotland, early next year, with commissioning taking place in summer 2020.

Viridor and CarbonOrO’s plant will upgrade the gas generated at the Dunbar site – which opened in early 2019 – into biomethane, which can then be used to power Viridor waste collection vehicles and to produce building materials.

Viridor’s Head of Innovation and Technology, Marcus Du Pree Thomas, explained that the process involves the stripping and low temperature regeneration of carbon dioxide capture and other contaminants from the methane content of landfill gas. The project will employ a unique fluid known as ‘amine solution’ that can absorb CO2 at temperatures as low as 40℃, using half the energy costs of traditional carbon capture methods.

Thomas said: “Once the gas has been liberated from landfill, this energy-efficient CO2-scrubbing process can be used to create a transport fuel with future applications including supply agreements with UK filling stations and the CO2 successfully captured and harnessed for third party applications such as in agriculture and the chemical/manufacturing industries.

“This is an incredibly efficient process with the methane gas cleaned to fuel grades in a matter of minutes and a landfill site like Dunbar, currently producing 2,500 cubic metres per hour of gas, capable of creating transport fuel which would run for 34,000 truck miles per year.”

Once the system is fully integrated, Viridor predicts that the plant could generate a carbon saving of 380 tonnes a year compared to diesel.

The project will also draw heat from the £177-million Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) located at the Viridor Dunbar site. This combined heat and power plant generates enough energy - 258 gigawatts – direct to the National Grid to continuously power over 70,000 homes, with up to 10 megawatts of heat available for local use.

‘Putting waste to work’

Commenting on the collaboration, Phil Piddington, Viridor’s Managing Director, said: “Viridor is committed to working with companies like CarbonOrO to develop sustainable solutions for the management of landfill gas. With the natural life of incentives, such as landfill gas renewable obligation certificates (ROCs), coming to the end in 2026/7, it is essential for our sector to develop new technologies and applications.

“CarbonOrO is a company committed to mitigating climate change by using landfill gas as a source of renewable energy. This is entirely in keeping with Viridor’s ethos of putting waste to work and creating valuable resources which actively help the UK achieve its environmental, resource and energy efficiency ambitions. Converting landfill gas into transport fuels is exactly the right vehicle for realising these goals, and the fact that the process draws on heat provided by the co-located ERF, sees this facility coming into its own as a combined heat and power plant. This is, of course, best practice for ERFs.

“We look forward to the Dunbar commercialisation delivering results which will enable us to use CarbonOrO’s unique technique across our portfolio of landfill sites. This investment in innovative technology is also an important development for the closed landfill sites but which form part of Viridor’s aftercare programme.”

CarbonOrO General Manager Pieter Verberne said: “Thank you, Viridor, for sharing our vision on the potential of waste. The Dunbar project is the ultimate demonstration of this vision. The gas-cleaning plant will be integrated with existing facilities on site. This will allow for driving CarbonOrO’s already energy-efficient- process with waste heat from Viridor’s nearby ERF.” 

Related Articles