Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

Report Underscores Potential of Renewable Natural Gas

June 21, 2011

NEW YORK -- Nonprofit group Energy Vision announced the release of a special report to help raise visibility of renewable natural gas and to promote its use in the U.S. as a transportation fuel.

Every year, Energy Vision said, U.S. homes and institutions throw away enough garbage, yard trimmings, farm residues and other organic waste to make renewable natural gas -- a clean, petroleum-free fuel that could power millions of the nation’s trucks and buses. Energy Vision, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven and Argonne national laboratories, has been educating communities and business leaders on the benefits of using this renewable resource.

The new report, “Waste to Wheels: Building for Success,” summarizes the proceedings of a one-day workshop held in Columbus, Ohio, in December. The workshop was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities initiative, Argonne National Laboratory and Clean Fuels Ohio. The event brought together 120 industry and government leaders from 29 states. Presentations addressed technologies for waste-based fuel production, projects that served as examples, and financial incentives.

Gail Richardson, Energy Vision’s vice president for programs, documented the proceedings.

“Waste to Wheels” discusses the characteristics of this waste-based fuel. Much cleaner than petroleum fuels, the renewable natural gas is chemically similar to conventional natural gas and can be blended with it or used to replace it. A significant difference is that renewable natural gas is made, not by drilling, but by processing the waste gases created wherever organic materials are breaking down: in landfills, at sewage treatment plants, and at farm or dairy operations. Because of this, it is called renewable natural gas, referred to as "RNG" or "biomethane."

“Given the rising concerns nationally and globally about climate changing greenhouse gases, RNG deserves ‘center ring’ attention as it is the lowest of low-carbon fuels in the world,” said Richardson. “And technologies for producing RNG are commercially available. RNG is produced in Europe and used by municipal fleets in a dozen of its cities. It is just emerging in the U.S.”

According to the report, communities that are already converting their bus and truck fleets to conventional natural gas are a step ahead in moving toward use of RNG, since the vehicles and refueling infrastructure are the same for both.

“Clean Cities coalitions and other local partnerships can be game-changers in making renewable natural gas from wastes because local agencies play a decisive role in how the nation’s wastes are managed,” said Joanna Underwood, Energy Vision’s president. “We are committed to using Energy Vision’s expertise to assist DOE Clean Cities’ affiliates with local and statewide RNG initiatives.”

For more information, visit http://www.energy-vision.org/index.html.

For the report and workshop materials, go to DOE’s website: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/cleancities/waste_to_wheels.html.

 

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