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Methane capture proposal floated to committee

By Jenn Watt

Published Dec. 12 2017

Dysart et al council will receive a proposal at its January meeting detailing how it can capture methane gases coming from the Haliburton and West Guilford landfills generating income.

At its environment and conservation committee meeting on Dec. 7 councillors and staff listened to a presentation by John Desbiens president and CEO of Cambium Inc. based in Peterborough.

Desbiens discussed the potential of capping the Haliburton landfill and harvesting the methane gas which would then be sold.

“It’s as simple as really just installing some piping under a gas-tight cap of some kind. The most common would be a clay type cap on top. This is something you would see anyway at a landfill closure” he explained to the committee.

“Then the gas is just vacuumed out and stored in a flexible membrane and at that point you can then put it into a compressed gas cylinder on a truck and take it to wherever you would make use of it.”

According to the province of Ontario’s website on landfill gas capture most landfills produce gases that are about half methane half carbon dioxide. However methane is 21 times as powerful when it comes to climate change than CO2.

“Landfill gas also contains trace amounts of other compounds such as hydrogen sulphide mercaptans and non-methane organics. These other compounds may cause odours or affect local air quality” the website reads.

Burning methane converting it to CO2 “reduces its global warming potential by about 95 per cent. Use of the methane for energy purposes can further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing other energy sources” the site says.

Desbiens said that there are plenty of funding opportunities for this kind of climate change mitigation initiative and given the committee’s approval his company would begin looking for that funding.

Committee chairman and Dysart et al Councillor Dennis Casey asked whether methane runs out at a certain point.

Desbiens said it did but when it comes to a landfill that is being closed anyway the operations would cease when there was no more methane to capture.

“At the landfill you run out and it’s run its course. That’s fine. You’ve done what you intended to do which is to capture harmful methane and you’ve also then converted it into useful energy and you’ve generated a revenue stream for whatever period of time it was and it’s all paid for itself many times over” he said.

The committee was also joined by Chris Ferguson of CCS Biogas Inc. and Dave Bucholtz general manager of environmental services with Cambium.

Dysart et al Mayor Murray Fearrey asked about the feasibility of building a biogas plant in Haliburton which could process organics whether they be septage or plant-based materials.

The presenters said that could be looked at but would require a great deal of planning and discussion as a new site would need to be found public meetings held and approvals acquired.

Plus it’s not known whether there would be enough waste in the county to make it financially prudent.

“That’s a separate conversation. The nice thing about the landfill is you already know the site. When you talk about a biogas plant that’s a whole other thing” Desbiens said.

Cambium will be doing further investigation on the methane capture proposal and bringing back details to Dysart et al’s January council meeting.