Landfill Gas Production Rate Quick Calculation Method

The Ready Reckoner or Rule of Thumb Estimate of Landfill Gas Production Rate/Yield

Quickly gain a VERY rough estimate of a landfill’s Landfill Gas Production Rate!

For the first considerations of a potential landfill gas production rate, before carrying out a full yield evaluation, for landfill gas utilization projects, you can use the following rules (but always follow this up by doing a full model simulation calculation):

For a 1Mt landfill, filled over the last ten years:

• 1m3 MSW yields 5 – 10 m3/t/y in the first 10 years of emplacement (Environment Agency, 2002)

• 5 – 10 Mm3/y LFG will be generated, which equates to somewhere between 5 x 106/365/24 = 570 m3/hr (lower bound) and, 1 x 107/365/24 = 1140 m3/hr (upper bound)

Two other rules of thumb also apply:

• It takes 1Mt to run a 1MW gas engine.

• A 1MW gas engine needs 530 – 630 m3/hr (depending on its efficiency).

(Source: GasSim and PPC Permitting: Current Practice, Future Practice; Conference Proceedings, Waste 2004, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK, September 2004)

Finally, the smallest EfW schemes which are normally economically viable in the UK, with the benefit from ROCS (or ROSCS in Scotland) are usually 500kW, and based upon a 500kW gas engine. (December 2004)

(Update 2007 – with the availability now of 300kW engines and good prices paid for the power possibly including ROCs, the 500kW minimum has dropped for many sites to 300kW, using these new engines.)

However, this is ONLY a rule of thumb based upon UK MSW, and actual yields will vary greatly. Expert modelling and advice is recommended. Economic circumstances also continually vary. Smaller purpose-designed gas engines and the innovatory use of micro-turbines are among the recent and interesting developments which may reduce the minimum size of EfW schemes still further for some sites.

A further source of  landfill gas production rate information is, also available as follows:

“Theoretical landfill gas yields from complete degradation of the degradable organic matter in household wastes are typically ~370m3/tonne. However, lower yields from landfills are likely because of incomplete degradation in the sub-optimal conditions in most landfills and less than 100% gas recovery efficiency. It is generally thought unlikely that more than 200m3/tonne of methane rich landfill gas could be recovered and, from experiences at gas recovery plants in the USA as well as from other experimental systems, a yield closer to 100m3/tonne is increasingly accepted as the upper practical commercially recoverable yield. In no case, however, has gas recovery been carried out to exhaustion and the above suppositions remain hypothetical.”

The quotation above is taken from the paper; “Enhanced Landfill Gas Production At Large-Scale Test Cells”, D. Campbell*, M. Caine, M. Meadows And K. Knox, of the proceedings Vol1, of the Sardinia ’95, 5th International Landfill Symposium, p593.

Further reading on landfill gas yields:

Amazon ImageCritical Review and Summary of Leachate and Gas Production from Landfills Based upon The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements this is part of a series of publications helping to raise awareness of US environmental issues.


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