Dubuque landfill looking to turn gas into cash - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque landfill looking to turn gas into cash

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Turning gas into cash. 

That's the aim of a project the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency is hoping to get off the ground.

As trash breaks down in the landfill, it creates a gas that's a mix of methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other trace elements.

The DMASWA has paid about $2 million for a system that collects and destroys most of that gas.  They pay about $100,000 every year to maintain and run the system.

But now they want to do more than just destroy it. They want to make money off of it.

While there are a number of options, the most feasible, they say, it to turn that gas into gasoline equivalents that can be sold to the transportation industry.

All told, they say the gas generated at the landfill in Dubuque translates to more than 1 million gallons of gasoline equivalent.

The goal, they say, 10-15 years down the road, is to have "something that's able to clean the gas, and create a marketable product. Now whether it's still being used as a transportation fuel at that point, or whether we shift it over to electrical generation, or whether we shift it over to a process fuel, gives that flexibility to the agency and to it's private partner, really on how to maximize the physical value as well as the environmental value of the gas that we generate," said John Foster, DMASWA's administrator.

They're currently looking for a partner to help develop the system to clean and convert the gas, then sell it.

He says the money generated through this project could help keep costs at the landfill low, and could help them expand other programs in the area.

"So every time somebody brings trash across, six dollars of that 45 dollar fee we're charging, goes to subsidize other programs. Household hazardous waste, when you get rid of your hazardous waste out of your household, your paints, your stains and all that. That is a fee that's completely subsidized off the landfill tipping fee. So hopefully we can ease that tipping fee, so we can keep our tipping fees reasonable for waste disposal," Foster said.

Foster also says the project would be very beneficial to the environment.

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