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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Technology Note

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth's Cynthia Graber reports on a program to use the methane gas from landfills to help fuel garbage trucks.


CURWOOD: Just ahead, how smart folks can get lost in the woods. First, this environmental tech note from Cynthia Graber.

GRABER: The city of San Diego is in the process of making its garbage trucks less polluting. By converting these engines to run in part on liquefied natural gas, the city is reducing the pollution output from each truck by the equivalent of 20 S.U.V.s. Liquefied natural gas is composed mostly of methane and is extracted from locations around the country. Recently, San Diego officials thought they might be able to get this fuel from the very thing the garbage trucks were hauling around - the trash itself. Microbes in landfills produce methane, a greenhouse gas, as they digest garbage. Some landfills make use of this byproduct by capturing methane to make electricity. But most of the gas from U.S. landfills simply escapes into the atmosphere. Theoretically, it could be liquefied and made into fuel, but the gas coming off landfills isn't pure methane. So the city of San Diego has partnered with a private company willing to do that research. In return, the company receives access to the landfill and its gas, and a promise from the city to buy the methane fuel once it's produced. The program is expected to be up and running by the spring of 2002. That's this week's Technology Note. I'm Cynthia Graber.


CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.



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