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Publication Title | POWERING MICROTURBINES WITH LANDFILL GAS

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United States Environmental Office of Air and Radiation EPA430-F-02-012 Protection Agency (6202J) October 2002

POWERING MICROTURBINES WITH LANDFILL GAS

Microturbines are an emerging landfill gas (LFG) energy recovery technology option, especially at smaller landfills where larger electric generation plants are not generally feasible due to economic factors and lower amounts of LFG. Several LFG microturbine projects have come on line recently, demonstrating both the risks and benefits of these small-scale applications. Microturbines may play an important role in future LFG project development, if the technical and economic hurdles facing them can be overcome.

group these units into larger sets, microturbines can fill an important niche. They can be used at landfills where the gas output is too low for larger engines and conventional turbines or where excess gas or onsite energy needs exist. (As an example, microturbines could be used to power blowers in a gas collection system.)

This fact sheet provides an overview of microturbine technology and its applications, as well as the economic considerations and benefits of powering microturbines with LFG.

Several LFG microturbine projects have come on line recently, demonstrating both the risks and benefits of these small-scale applications. Microturbines offer another option to generate electricity at sites ranging from older closed landfills with low-methane gas and low flow, to smaller, more rural landfills where larger generation technology is not usually feasible.

Overview

Microturbines are a recently commer­ cialized distributed generation (DG) technology. Like other DG technologies, such as fuel cells, wind turbines, and photovoltaic cells, microturbines are generally best suited to relatively small applications (i.e., less than 1 megawatt [MW]) and are designed to produce electricity for onsite energy needs and for end users in close proximity to the gener­ ation site. As a point of reference, the output of a 30 kilowatt (kW) microtur­ bine can power a 40 horsepower motor or satisfy the electricity needs of about

digester gas. At the time of publication

of this fact sheet, several companies

are manufacturing and distributing microturbines or are expected to do so in the near future. These include: Bowman Power (Southampton, England); Capstone Turbine Company (Chatsworth, California); Elliott Energy Systems (Jennette, Pennsylvania); Ingersoll-Rand (Portsmouth, New Hampshire); and Turbec (Malmo, Sweden).

20 homes.

Internal combustion engines have traditionally been the choice for LFG projects 800 kW and larger, and conven­ tional turbines are generally considered only for projects 3 MW and larger. However, with individual unit sizes in the 30 to 100 kW range and the ability to

To date, most microturbines on the market are powered using natural gas. However, they can also be operated using LFG or other waste fuels, such as oilfield flare gas and wastewater treatment plant

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