RNG Plant to Turn Landfill Gas Into Fuel
By Andy Ober on November 7, 2019
Work is underway on what Indianapolis-based Kinetrex Energy says will be the largest renewable natural gas (RNG) project in Indiana. Chief Executive Officer Aaron Johnson says the project is the latest sign that Indiana is becoming a national leader in renewable fuels.
Kinetrex is working with Australia-based sustainable energy producer EDL and South Side Landfill of Indianapolis on the $25 million project. The companies say, when complete, the facility on the south side of Indianapolis will turn methane produced by the landfill into about 8 million gallons of RNG each year in a process they say will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create a renewable energy resource and lower fuel costs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says methane is up to 36 times stronger than carbon dioxide.
“The methane that comes off of a landfill occurs naturally. You take the waste, you bury it, it naturally decays, it gives off methane and CO2,” said Johnson on a recent edition of Inside INdiana Business With Gerry Dick. “If you can capture that methane, purify it, clean it up, then you get a good usable product that would otherwise be escaping into the atmosphere, methane being one of the harsher greenhouse gasses.”
Johnson says Kinetrex will take the cleaned up gas and place it in the Citizens Gas distribution system, liquefy it and use it for long-haul trucking.
Kinetrex bills itself as a “common sense environmental company” that sells natural gas, liquid natural gas and renewable natural gas to utilities as well as companies in sectors including agriculture and transportation.
The expected benefits paint an impressive picture. EDL North America CEO Jim Grant estimates the facility will reduce methane emissions by about 17,000 tons per year and carbon dioxide emissions by about 41,000 tons per year, or the equivalent of removing up to 19,000 passenger cars from the road each year.
One of the most important benefits of the plant, says Johnson, is that it taps into a renewable energy source. Unlike traditional natural gas, which requires companies to go deep into the ground, this is gas that is going to be generated regardless, making it a renewable resource.
“This is a unique way to capture it, without having to go deep into the environment to get it,” Johnson says.
The companies say heavy-duty trucks that use RNG produced at facilities like this are 90 percent cleaner than the cleanest diesel engine and are carbon negative.
Indiana has a long history of being a coal-powered state, and is one of the most manufacturing-heavy states in the United States. With that backdrop, Indiana often does not get the credit it deserves as “a leader in this area,” says Johnson.
“You have Fair Oaks Farms up north, which was an innovator in renewable natural gas from anaerobic digestion. You have Cummins, which manufactures all the natural gas engines in the buses and in the class 8 trucks,” Johnson says. “And then up in northern Indiana, around Lafayette and in Tippecanoe County, you have all these great manufacturers, the country's leading manufacturers of cryogenic trailers and transportation for these.”
Kinetrex plans to have the new RNG plant complete and fully operational in January, giving Indiana its latest opportunity to prove itself as a hub of environmental innovation.