Making Energy Out Of Garbage - Facility Executive Magazine - Creating Intelligent Buildings

Dow chemical energy partnership with the EPA's landfill methane outreach program exceeds expectations in just one quarter.
Dow chemical energy partnership with the EPA's landfill methane outreach program exceeds expectations in just one quarter.

Making Energy Out Of Garbage

Making Energy Out Of Garbage - Facility Executive Magazine - Creating Intelligent Buildings

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, The Dow Chemical Company and the city of Dalton, GA partnered in a renewable energy source project that has far exceeded expectations in its first quarter of operation. The project takes gas from a Dalton landfill and uses it to fuel Dow’s latex carpet backing plant.

While in operation just three months, the latex carpet backing plant has already surpassed initial projections, according to Todd Crook, global marketing manager, Dow Flooring. Multiple carpet manufacturers have entered into agreements to use latex carpet backing produced with the fuel of LOMAX™ Technology, the name Dow bestowed upon this renewable energy source process. LOMAX Technology uses renewable energy (currently landfill gas) to manufacture latex carpet backings, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and assists customers in developing high performance products with sustainable attributes.

Dow partnered with the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) in early 2008 and has gained knowledge through this partnership. As a result of the success of the Dalton Landfill project and the partnership with LMOP, Dow is in the evaluation phase of two to three other similar projects in the United States.

“While most Americans think of landfills as a final resting place for their garbage, they are actually a source of valuable, clean energy,” said Victoria Ludwig, manager of the LMOP. “Dow’s landfill gas capture program is one of many examples where American businesses are rethinking how they power their operations.”

LMOP is a voluntary assistance and partnership program that promotes the use of methane in landfill gas as an energy source. By preventing emissions of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) through the development of landfill gas energy projects, LMOP helps businesses, states, energy providers, and communities protect the environment and build a sustainable future.

“When carpet manufacturers and their customers choose Dow latex backing, they can not only feel good about getting the products, but also products with an improved environmental impact,” said Crook. “In the manufacturing of our latexes for carpet backing, our target is to replace nearly all the fossil fuel required to manufacture latex with methane gas that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere.” More than 85% of carpet manufactured today utilizes latex as a backing material to hold the carpet fibers in place. LOMAX Technology will use approximately 200 billion Btus annually of methane gas, which is equivalent to the amount of energy required to heat 2,100 US homes annually. By utilizing this landfill gas in the Dalton carpet latex plant, the partnership will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 25 million pounds annually—which is comparable to keeping 2,300 cars off the road each year.

While piping “garbage gas” from a landfill to fuel a manufacturing facility is not a new technology, it continues to gain popularity as businesses and municipalities search for products that specifically target the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the dependence on using fossil fuels. The carpet industry has pushed the sustainability issue, putting pressure on itself before the words “LEED” and “green” came to the forefront.

“Utilizing landfill gas to replace our fossil fuel consumption is truly improving our environmental footprint and equally important is that this is a sustainable attribute that is easy for consumers and specifiers to understand, which is a challenge in today’s rush to market green products,” Crook noted. “We are using renewable energy that is naturally generated in a landfill and using that energy to replace our fossil fuel. These kinds of initiatives will change things in our lifetime.”  

Developments like LOMAX Technology are in keeping with Dow’s 2015 sustainability goals, a multi-part program to address some of the most pressing economic, social and environmental concerns facing the global community over the next 10 years.

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