Crystalline Vision

Innovative landfill gas-to-energy project fuels production of art glass.

When Fred Eckert, senior vice president of Energenic, an energy company, attended the Environmental Protection Agency's Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) conference last year, his goal was to identify a partner who could provide landfill gas for the development of energy production facilities. Energenic LLC, formed in late 2007, is a joint venture of Marina Energy and DCO Energy, both based in Mays Landing, N.J. Eckert eventually found a unique opportunity to develop a landfill gas-to-energy project (LFGTE) as well as a way to provide fuel for the new glass education center being built for Salem Community College (SCC) in Alloway, N.J.

The next step in the process involved discussions with Mike Chapman, executive director of the Salem County (N.J.) Utilities Authority, who oversees the operation of a municipal solid waste landfill approximately 15 miles from the college. Chapman was receptive to the idea and felt that the project was a natural fit for the county. Moreover, he first suggested using the landfill gas to power the college's glassmaking equipment.

Salem County, N.J., is home to the Wisterburg Glass Co., the oldest glass company in the Western Hemisphere. This, in part, explains SCC's emphasis on glass production. This unique LFGTE partnership enables the college to expand its scientific glass technology and glass art programs, and offer classes in flame working and kiln casting/cold construction, glassblowing, and industrial design. Once completed, this will be the only renewable energy facility of its kind in New Jersey and one of two on the East Coast using landfill gas to power equipment needed to make scientific glass apparatuses and art glass.

“I feel this project is a win-win for the local economy and the college,” says Paul Stankard, a world-renowned glass artist and an SCC alumnus. “The cost of energy is subsidized over time, allowing more money to be invested into the college.”

As part of the project, a 1,900-kilowatt LFGTE facility will be constructed on the authority's property to burn the collected methane gas from the landfill using a reciprocating green engine generator. This process converts the harmful elements of methane gas into standard components of combustion that will generate approximately 1.9 megawatts of electricity. The treated landfill gas will fuel the kilns at the college's new glass center, which will be constructed adjacent to the landfill. Meanwhile, electricity generated from the gas will be used to power on-site operations at the landfill facility, with the remaining power sold to the Pennsylvania New Jersey Maryland Interconnection LLC (PJM) grid.

Energenic is the largest generator of electricity from landfill gas in New Jersey. In addition to the Salem County landfill project, the company operates three LFGTE facilities throughout the state:

  • Atlantic County - Provides electricity to the Atlantic County Landfill and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

  • Burlington County - Provides electricity that powers the Burlington County Landfill and is marketed to the PJM grid.

  • Warren County - Provides electricity to the Pollution Control Financing Authority of Warren County.

“Since most landfills generate methane gas, it makes sense to use the gas for energy generation rather than allowing it to escape into the atmosphere,” Eckert says. “The goal of Energenic's landfill gas projects is to create a sustainable energy source, provide direct and indirect benefits for the local economy, and improve the environment.”
Stephen Poniatowicz, executive vice president of Energenic and Mike Chapman, executive director of the Salem County Utilities Authority.