A Riverside County landfill’s waste gases are being converted to electricity with technology touted as having the potential to power hundreds, if not thousands, of homes and businesses.
The 10-ton “clean energy” platform, which was recently installed at the Lamb Canyon Landfill in Beaumont, processes methane gas that collects in landfills as waste decomposes and turns the byproduct into electricity, according to Irvine-based FlexEnergy CEO Joseph Perry.
“Instead of that bad gas being released into the atmosphere, creating greenhouse effects, our breakthrough technology converts it to energy that can be added to the power grid,” Perry told City News Service.
He joined county Board of Supervisors Chairman Marion Ashley, Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, and other dignitaries Thursday at a ceremony to demonstrate how the FlexPowerstation works.
The system was set up at the 1,189-acre Lamb Canyon dump more than two months ago and remains in a test phase, Perry said. There was no cost to the county, which offered the space to see the power plant’s potential.
Perry said the platform, which combines a heat exchanger, oxidizer and turbine to convert the gas, is generating about 30 kilowatts a day — enough to power 30 homes.
Methane is drawn out of mini wells drilled throughout the landfill and processed in the FlexPowerstation, according to Perry, who said a commercial unit could convert enough gas to power 250 homes.
There was no word on whether the county intends to pursue a contract with the start-up.
According to the FlexEnergy chief, the company’s technology is the only one on the market able to create energy from “very dilute amounts of methane,” using a process that mixes fuel and air prior to oxidation.
Perry said the Department of Defense recently sealed a $1 million deal with the company to establish a FlexPowerstation at a landfill on the perimeter of Fort Benning, in Georgia, where Army special forces troops train.
Municipalities throughout Southern California have expressed an interest in utilizing the technology, as well, Perry said.
“This region has some of the lowest quality air in the country,” he said. “We’ve shown we have a very low environmental profile. We can take an environmental problem and turn it into electricity.”
According to Perry, most landfills, wastewater treatment plants, oil wells and coal mines simply “flare off” their methane, burning it instead of turning it into energy.
“There’s the potential … out there to effectively generate hundreds of megawatts of power,” he said.