The Riverview Land Preserve, a Michigan-licensed municipal solid-waste landfill facility and one of the largest in the state of Michigan, provides a valuable and convenient public service in helping to manage non-hazardous solid waste in an environmentally friendly manner. The methane gas utilized from the facility is used by DTE Energy to provide low-cost, renewable electricity to 6,000 households in the Detroit area.
Now, the Riverview Land Preserve is taking its environmental stewardship one step further by becoming the first in Michigan and only the third municipal landfill in the United States to utilize its methane gas on-site to produce Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for use in motor vehicles – starting with Riverview’s city police cars and Department of Public Works’ vehicles while they are converted into bi-fuel vehicles (gasoline/CNG) in the months and years ahead. According to Robert Bobeck, City of Riverview’s Director of Solid Waste, while those vehicles are being converted to run on CNG, the fuel will be offered for sale to other municipalities in southeastern Michigan as well.
CNG is a fuel substitute for gasoline (petrol) and diesel fuel, considered a more environmentally “clean” alternative to conventional fuels, at a fraction of the cost of gasoline or diesel while achieving similar or better engine performance.
Madison, Wisc.-based BioCNG, LLC, was hired by the City of Riverview to supply an on-site system and fueling station at the Riverview Land Preserve to allow conditioned landfill gas (LFG) to be used directly as vehicle fuel or mixed with natural gas to produce a CNG/BioCNG blend. The mixing of fuels is similar to vehicle fuels containing blends of biodiesel or ethanol.
According to Bobeck, the on-site BioCNG system yields up to 500 gge per day. A gge unit is equivalent to a gallon of gasoline.
“The City of Riverview is an innovator,” said Michael S. Michels, Executive Vice President, BioCNG, LLC. “This shows how a landfill can clean up the gas it already generates to make its own fuel and controls its future fuel costs. Currently, municipalities set a fuel budget at the beginning of the year and are at the mercy of fluctuating fuel costs in which they have no control. The beauty of the approach taken by the City of Riverview is that it will be able to firmly establish its fuel costs and set its own price without being dependent on others. It is a great example of an innovative municipality that is doing the right thing for its taxpayers in reducing costs and for those in surrounding communities with cleaner air.”
“The fuel-cost savings alone are staggering,” said Bobeck. “Diesel fuel may average about $4.20/gallon and regular gasoline $3.50/gallon. CNG is about $2.20/gge and the CNG/BioCNG blend is approximately $1.01/gge.”
The City of Riverview paid $1.2 million for its BioCNG system and will prove to be a “very wise investment for our city,” according to City of Riverview City Manager Douglas Drysdale.
The city’s fuel costs for motor vehicles – including police cars, Public Works vehicles and others – has averaged $183,000 for the past three years. As a greater number of fleet vehicles in the city are converted to CNG or purchased new with factory-installed CNG, the fuel costs will drop substantially, according to Drysdale.
The City of Riverview’s fleet of vehicles includes 16 police vehicles and 25 work trucks and other vehicles, according to Drysdale.
“This is all very exciting,” said Drysdale. “The BioCNG system utilizes the landfill gas we already own and cleans it for use in motor vehicles, allowing us to reduce our fuel costs while being greener for the environment. We also are marketing our BioCNG to other municipalities and are already generating great interest in doing so.”
BioCNG’s Michels said “The City of Riverview is leading the pack on this, among municipalities in Michigan and most everywhere else. More than 10 other municipalities in the region are currently considering doing the same thing and we have hundreds of proposals being considered around the country.”