Clean Water Services in Washington County, Oregon, has been doing it for the past decade, and Portland City Council has finally decided that - you know, rather than flaring off methane from sewage treatment, maybe they ought to capture the stuff and use it as fuel.
The Portland City Council unanimously approved on Wednesday the construction of a $9 million facility to convert methane gas in the city's sewer system into marketable natural gas. City officials plan to sell that natural gas through a Portland-based natural gas distributer to governments and organizations looking to replace diesel fuel in cars, buses, garbage trucks and other fleets of vehicles.
There are a few issues:
Methane and natural gas fuels work wonderfully in diesel cycle engines. They absolutely are not a direct replacement for liquid diesel fuel. The gas can also be used to generate electricity via modified commercial natural gas generator sets, so Bureau of Environmental Services can use those to offset the cost of purchasing power from PGE to run the sewage treatment operations.
Problem: Portland City Council earlier this month voted unanimously to sever ties with Caterpillar. Guess who manufactures those generator sets?
Breaking up is hard to do.