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UNC wants gas

The Board of County Commissioners agreed on Tuesday to consider a proposal by UNC to use county landfill gas to power the university’s Carolina North development.

Commissioners and county officials have said they would like to launch a possible gas-recovery project at the landfill as a way of reducing greenhouse gases. County staff last week had recommended that the commissioners request proposals from private firms as well as the university, but university officials said they would not bid against private firms.

Commissioners postponed a decision regarding the proposal process so that university and county officials could meet to discuss UNC’s possible proposal.

“We want to make Carolina North carbon-neutral, period,” said Carolyn Elfland, UNC associate vice chancellor for campus services. “The landfill gas alone would make the energy carbon-neutral in the first phase, so that’s why we’re really interested in it.”

Elfland said the university plans to break ground on the first phase of Carolina North in January 2009, adding that officials hope to use the gas to simultaneously create both thermal and electric energy.

“It’s much more efficient to do it that way,” she said.

Commissioners had last week questioned whether the university would need to flare the gas, rather than use if for energy, for a period of time before the first phase of the Carolina North development is complete.

“If for a short period of time we needed to flare the gas because we wanted to address the odor issue, that might be acceptable among us, but clearly the end product has to be energy or some other beneficial usage,” Elfland said. “Flaring it forever is not an acceptable solution, and that’s not really what we want to use it for either.”

Commissioner Mike Nelson pointed out that the landfill gas will peak, adding that it should be captured sooner rather than later, and questioned whether the first phase of Carolina North would begin by 2009.

“We don’t really need the new Carolina North to be significantly developed if we could just pipe the gas,” Elfland said.

She added that the Carolina North structures that already exist could use all of the electric energy produced by the landfill gas.

County staff will draft an agreement with the university, which commissioners will consider on January 15.

  1. Don Booth

    What you all are planning to do with the landfill is he right thing, energy recovery, this is a great source, but usually needs some cleaning of the gas before use to raise the BTU or removal of some inpurinties that would be harmful to boiler equipment. We at MATRIC have had a lot of experiece in the gas seperation and preperation area and would appreciate an opportunity to have other discussions with your organization. Good luck our your venture.
    Don Booth
    1-800-611-2296, x-830