Large quantities of wastes are generated from the rapid increase in livestock, growth of agriculture and food processing industries and accumulation of municipal solid wastes. This has led to higher methane emissions, increasing the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) in the atmosphere that affects the climate system. To address the rising emissions, efforts are being directed towards using methane as a clean energy source, at the same time cleaning the environment and deriving economic benefits therefrom.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) is helping harness energy from landfill waste by promoting the recovery and use of methane.
Methane, a hydrocarbon, is the second most abundant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. It has the ability to trap heat in the atmosphere, which is called “global warming potential.” As a greenhouse gas, methane is 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.
Methane comes from a variety of natural and human-influenced sources. Human-influenced sources include landfills, natural gas and petroleum systems, agricultural activities, coal mining, stationary and mobile combustion, wastewater treatment, and certain industrial processes.
Landfill as a source of methane
Citing the Global Methane Initiative Report, PCIEERD Executive Director Amelia P. Guevara said that globally, landfill is the third largest source of methane.
Landfill methane is a gas produced when organic materials like paper, household and food wastes are decomposed by bacteria in the absence of oxygen or air. This gas can be harnessed and used as an alternative source of energy.
According to Dr. Guevara, the recovery and use of methane from landfills could significantly reduce the overall emission of greenhouse gases. “It could even offset the need to generate energy from fossil fuels, thus reducing emissions of other pollutants,” she said.
Dr. Guevara explained that methane from landfill can be collected by installing gas recovery systems, that can then be used to generate electricity. “It is within this backdrop that PCIEERD has been conducting awareness campaigns and support for technology transfer through training and capacity-building on landfill gas and methane recovery,” she said.
Particularly, PCIEERD is conducting landfill inventory and landfill gas estimation modelling. The Council gathers information on the existing landfills in the regions, which include landfill conditions and gas management, gas generation estimates and recovery, and other physical data. These activities are being undertaken in collaboration with the National Solid Waste Management Commission and selected DOST Regional Offices.
Information generated from these activities are useful in coming up with specific measures and policies to address challenges concerning methane recovery, Dr. Guevara said.
She also shared that PCIEERD organizes fora that focus on landfill operations and methane reduction plans, policies, regulations, and initiatives as well as finance support mechanisms. “We have already conducted a forum in Quezon City where the participants are mostly from local government units, academe and private sectors who are involved in landfill gas project development in the Luzon Cluster. We intend to conduct fora in Visayas and Mindanao too,” Dr. Guevara said.
PCIEERD’s initiatives on methane activities are supported by the Global Methane Initiative (GMI). GMI is an international public-private initiative that advances cost-effective, near-term methane recovery and use as a clean energy source in four sectors namely, agriculture, coal mines, landfills and oil and gas systems.
DOST-PCIEERD is the lead agency in the planning, promotion and management of scientific and technological research for the industry, energy and emerging technology sectors. (Ms. Janet Rosalie Anne H. Polita, PCIEERD-RITTD)
For more information:
Dr. Virginia G. Novenario-Enriquez
Chief, Research Information and Technology Transfer Division
Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology
Research and Development
Tel: (632) 837.2071-82 local 2102/2109
Fax: (632) 837.3168 / 837.6154