CASE STUDY

Biogas Power

The Client: LMS Generation

Making power from waste – recovering landfill gas so internal combustion engines can produce renewable energy and other waste heat bi-products. One tonne of biodegradable waste produces between 200 and 400 cubic metres of landfill gas.

The Background

Each year about 60% of Australia’s waste, around 20 million tonnes, goes to landfill while another 14 million tonnes is processed through recycling activities.

Most landfill waste is handled at Municipal sites and contains significant portions of organic materials that produce a variety of gaseous products when dumped, compacted and covered in landfills.

Anaerobic bacteria thrive in such oxygen-free environments resulting in the decomposition of the organic materials and the production of a biogas consisting primarily of carbon dioxide and methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas that’s global warming potential is over twenty times greater than carbon dioxide.

So when you consider that one tonne of biodegradable waste produces between 200 and 400 cubic metres of landfill gas, containing an average 50% methane, 40% carbon dioxide and 10% nitrogen, it’s potentially a big
problem – or in the case of Australian company LMS Generation (LMS) it’s a big opportunity.

LMS is a specialist landfill gas recovery and power generation company whose principals pioneered the collection and conversion of landfill gas to energy in Australia in 1982. Through the ensuing years LMS has developed extensive proprietary technology and project development experience in landfill gas and energy infrastructure projects throughout Australia, Malaysia, China, Korea, North America, United Kingdom and Europe.

In Australia LMS are involved with over 40 landfill sites, of which there are currently 15 gas recovery sites where the landfill gas is recovered and used in internal combustion engines to produce renewable energy and other waste heat bi-products, while additional sites will be developed in the future for the production and sale of green electricity.

As the topography varies greatly from site to site a purpose built customised gas collection system and where viable power generation installation is required for each site which LMS handle internally through their ‘Gas Group’ and ‘Energy Group’. Both groups are responsible for the development of both the gas infrastructure and power generation / co-generation facilities from the initial concept stage through to engineering, manufacture and installation, culminating with the export of electricity back into a high voltage distribution network grid. The unique nature of LMS is that in addition to the Gas and Energy Group’s, another division of LMS – the Power Group, operates and maintains the LMS owned and built facilities for the commercial life of each project.

According to the Energy Group’s General Manager – Energy Technologies, Tony Boddice, LMS’ sites are currently producing over 220,000 megawatt hours of export power per annum and they are on track to significantly increase that export capacity by the end of 2009.

So, with roughly 1 megawatt providing enough power for the equivalent of 1,000 homes, LMS is making a valuable contribution to the community through both renewable energy production and measurable carbon emissions avoidance, with over 1,000,000 tonnes of Co2e avoided in 2008.

“Our experience enables us to provide our clients and communities with proven and reliable technologies that are individually tailored to meet their specific needs.

“We operate facilities at both active and closed landfill sites and as a rule of thumb generally consider 50,000 tonnes of landfill waste per annum is required to generate sufficient landfill gas to sustain viable production and sale of electricity.

The Requirement

“To extract the landfill gas we drill a series of wells which are configured with a piping network, with the recovered gas transported under vacuum to a common point where the gas is processed and either combusted in an LMS designed and manufactured enclosed flare, or utilised to fuel LMS designed generator equipment.

“Because the proven reciprocating engine technology has been engineered to the specific needs of each project LMS are able to focus on optimum design solutions that produce cost effective outcomes. Our generation equipment, for example, is all Caterpillar product as we’ve found over the years that Caterpillar gas engines provide both the most cost effective dollar per installed kilowatt and operating /maintenance costs via a competitive pricing structure for essential spare parts.

“Our generation facilities operate 24/7 with revenue realised from the power exported and with such an optimum requirement for reliability the Caterpillar fleet of generation equipment offers LMS the opportunity to achieve availability figures in the high ninety per centum.

“And because LMS provide value added engineering from the ground up to all its projects, Caterpillar’s basic, conventional and conservative build approach is another huge benefit to us, as it enables LMS to value add by the configuration and integration of select components – like our own control systems that complement the long established and highly successful Caterpillar design concepts.

“A Caterpillar generator set allows for multiple add on configurations through specific engineering disciplines as opposed to other like reciprocating engine manufacturers who generally provide a product with all the bells and whistles, whether you need them or not, which may not be applicable to our specific application yet priced accordingly to the detailed engineered offering.

The Solution

“We currently operate over thirty Caterpillar generator sets at our Australian sites, ranging in size from the 3412 series through to the 3508, 3512, 3516 and culminating in the 3520 series – the first to operate on landfill gas fuel in Australia, all of which have been supplied by Energy Power Systems Australia, so our association with them goes way back.

“Their direct interface with Caterpillar and product support, which is critical for us, is excellent and their  knowledge of the Caterpillar product is second to none.

“LMS highly values the strength of the working relationship with Energy Power Systems Australia and Caterpillar as LMS continues to grow its core business,” Tony said.

The Results

Commenting on Energy Power Systems Australia’s (EPSA) association with LMS, EPSA’s Electric Power Generation and Gas Business Manager, David Moore, said that LMS’ ongoing use of CAT’s V8, 12, 16 and 20 cylinder gas engines is testament to the outstanding attributes of the engines and EPSA’s focus on product knowledge and support.

“EPSA and Caterpillar continue to work closely with LMS by offering continuous product improvement in  efficiency and technical support as required to LMS’ fleet of generation equipment which is consistently delivering availability figures that are considered as good as anywhere in the world for the long term sustainable delivery of renewable energy.

“Competition for the supply of gas fuelled engines for power generation is particularly fierce, so to be able to maintain a relationship with a company like LMS for so many years is rewarding and reinforces our singled minded approach to supplying and supporting the best product for the application, no matter where it’s located,” David said.

LMS Generation

[EPSA's] direct interface with Caterpillar and product support, which is critical for us, is excellent and their knowledge of the Caterpillar product is second to none.

TONY BODDICE, LMS GENERATION
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