Gas from garbage hits the market

The first commercially distributed biogas is now available in California

Topics: renewable energy, biogas, landfills, Methane, Diesel, Biofuel, , , ,

The methane emitted by landfills, dairy farms and sewage plants, when converted into fuel, burns cleaner than diesel and is completely renewable. That it’s not widely available in the United States is about to change, as Clean Energy Fuels, a company backed by oil giant T. Boone Pickens, today announced that it has become the first commercial distributor of biogas for cars, trucks and buses.

The company plans to sell 15 million gallons of the biogas, called Redeem, at 40 pumping stations in California this year. Its arrival came much earlier than most were expecting, reports the New York Times, and it’s already doubling the amount of biogas the EPA predicted would be produced nationwide.

The Wall Street Journal breaks down Redeem’s impact:

According to California Air Resource Board estimates, Redeem sourced from landfill gas can enable up to a 90% reduction in carbon emissions when displacing diesel or gasoline in CNG. A fleet that consumes 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline per year can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 9,700 metric tons by switching to Redeem, which is the equivalent of taking 1,940 passenger cars off the road per year.

Adds the New York Times:



The fuel’s environmental benefits also include capturing the methane before it is released into the atmosphere. When the methane-derived fuel is burned, it is far less harmful to the atmosphere than petroleum fuels. But the methane that escapes directly from decomposing waste is more potent as a heat-trapping gas than carbon.

Although technically, biogas is more expensive to produce than diesel, California state and federal incentives are allowing Clean Energy to sell it for the same price. Plans are underway to take the product national — soon enough, we could all be running on manure.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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