Fueling a Revolution

Clean Energy Renewable Fuels
Canton, Michigan
9,380 square feet
DiClemente Siegel Design, Inc.

By harnessing biomethane gas released from landfills, Clean Energy Renewable Fuels, LLC (CERF) takes an often overlooked renewable energy resource and converts it into natural gas – a fuel source that’s over 85 percent cleaner in carbon emissions, nitrous oxide and particulate emissions than diesel. CERF subsidiary Canton Renewables, LLC hired Walbridge to design-build a new processing facility at the Sauk Trail Hills Landfill in southeast Michigan. At capacity, the new plant can produce the energy equivalent of 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day.

One Person’s Trash is Another’s Energy Source

Biomethane is a gas that’s produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. A landfill is an ideal source of biomethane and after it’s processed, it can be used as vehicle fuel.

In constructing the Canton plant, Walbridge installed a 150-foot-long, 18-inch underground pipe that taps into the biomethane source at the landfill and transports it directly into the new facility to be compressed and treated instead of burned. The project scope included integrating blowers, chillers, a scrubber, a regenerative thermal oxidizer and outdoor vessels (two measuring eight feet in diameter and 45-feet tall) that treat and refine the compressed gas. At that stage, it’s sold to local utility companies and released into the natural gas energy grid. Other underground utilities included 1,500-feet of 8-inch water main – 600 feet of which was directionally bored. As a backup, Walbridge also installed one new flare stack to handle off-gas from the production stream and, as an emergency function, to prevent the release of raw landfill gas into the atmosphere.

The new facility is designed to treat raw landfill gas and remove impurities so it meets pipeline quality requirements to be sold as natural gas.