This was a conversation I recently had with Don Augenstein of the Institute for Energy Management (IEM). His company was one of the finalists in the California Cleantech Open last year, and his advanced methane capture technology promises to harness up to 98 percent of all methane generated in landfills in the U.S.

Methane from landfills is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., but in the past decade many landfills have become energy producers, trapping the methane (CH4) before it escapes and utilizing it to produce electricity on site. IEM pairs the use of wells with several patented capture layers to both increase production and the amount of CH4 collected.

Augenstein estimates that about 3 million homes could be powered by methane if all the U.S. landfills adopted his technology.

Back in the 80's, Don Augenstein was one of the early pioneers researching methane "bioreactors" and recently spun out his R&D nonprofit into a for-profit venture. If you want to dive into all the scientific details, you can check out his IEM powerpoint.

Image: Utah State University

Landfill methane could power 3 million homes
Advanced methane capture could make a significant dent in U.S. energy demand.