International automaker Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc.’s partnership with Waste Services of the Bluegrass (WSB) to generate power for its facility from local landfill waste came online last month, marking the region’s first business-to-business landfill gas-to-energy initiative.
“The methane gas from the landfill will be directly burned in the generator,” says Chris Adkins, energy management specialist for Toyota Motors Manufacturing, Kentucky.
According to WSB’s website, up to 100 percent of the methane gas captured at Central Kentucky Landfill in Georgetown, Ky., will be purchased by Toyota, which estimates the locally generated gas will supply enough power each year for the production of 10,000 vehicles. The plant manufactures two hybrid models and has been a zero waste to landfill facility since 2006.
“As a corporate citizen of central Kentucky, we are committed to smarter and better ways of doing business to enhance our community and environment,” Todd Skaggs, CEO of Waste Services of the Bluegrass said in a statement. “We look forward to being a partner in Toyota’s sustainability efforts.”
A network of wells at the landfill will collect and prepare the landfill gas, which will be used to fuel generators for electricity. Underground transmission lines will then carry the electricity to Toyota’s manufacturing plant, located a few miles south of the landfill.
“There is a network of gas wells drilled into the older portions of the landfill. These wells are connected to a collection pipe, which is connected to a vacuum pump at the gas collection station,” says Adkins. “(The) vacuum is applied through the collection pipes, and the gas is pulled to the collection station, cleaned up and sent to the generator as fuel.”
The system will generate one megawatt of electricity per hour, or about what it takes to power 800 homes, based on average consumption in the U.S. Additionally, landfill greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by as much as 90 percent, which equals better air quality for the local community.
“The megawatt output of the landfill gas to energy system will grow over time as the landfill area grows,” says Adkins.
This isn’t Toyota’s first non-traditional approach to environmental stewardship. Since 2006, the Kentucky plant has been a “zero-landfill” facility, which means waste generated at the plant gets repurposed instead of getting rejected.
Some of the waste goes into a composter, located on the plant’s 1,300-acre campus. The compost generated is used to fertilize an on-site garden, which has supplied more than 11,000 pounds of produce to a local food bank.
“Toyota has a number of projects in the discovery phase for harnessing renewables,” says Adkins.