Is landfill key to cutting methane emissions?

A new collaboration with mineral processing technology company Zeotech Limited aims to find out and contribute toward Australia’s recent pledge to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030.

The 12-month multi-stage research program with Zeotech, in collaboration with Cleanaway Waste Management Limited, will develop and validate (scientifically and economically) the potential use of zeolites, a manufactured aluminosilicate grain produced from a by-product of lithium processing, for reducing landfill methane emissions.

“Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 80 times greater than carbon dioxide in the first 20-years following atmospheric release and after 100-years it has a global warming potential 28 times greater than CO₂,” said Dr Chris Pratt, the research lead for the project from Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute.

“We are therefore excited to be working on such a valuable project which could help a traditionally hard-to-abate sector achieve greenhouse gas reduction, and to help support Australia’s recent pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030”

With landfills releasing just under a billion tonnes carbon of methane into the atmosphere every year, it is little surprise that landfill methane control was identified as the highest-ranking near-term opportunity for emission reduction in a recently completed carbon market scoping study conducted by Griffith University.

“This research collaboration with Zeotech is working to develop a technology to intercept and destroy the methane emissions from landfills before they manage to get into the atmosphere,” Dr Pratt said.

“We’re targeting the cover material on landfills, which is often a loamy soil material. By applying a manufactured zeolite layer within landfill capping soils, we hope to intercept and oxidise methane emitted from the underlying refuse, boosting chemical and biological methane elimination processes and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The idea that Zeotech can take a by-product of lithium processing and turn them into a zeolite product that has the potential to help combat such a major environmental issue is extremely exciting.”

The project, while focused on landfill methane emissions, could open opportunities for Zeotech products to be applied for methane emission control measures across other large industries such as mining and agriculture.

The green line indicates where a manufactured zeolite layer could function to intercept and oxidise methane emitted from the underlying refuse

“We are pleased to be collaborating with Zeotech and Griffith University on an innovative project which leverages novel mineral processing technology to potentially contribute to greenhouse gas abatement and assist Cleanaway to achieve its sustainability goals,” said Barry Griffin, the Head of Engineering at Cleanaway Waste Management.

Griffith University values its technical partnership with Zeotech and the opportunity to develop zeolite applications to reduce methane emissions in commercial settings.

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