Akureyri exploring options for methane fuel from rubbish

Methane production at the Akureyri landfill site in northern Iceland appears to be high enough to allow for commercial harnessing of the gas in the coming years.

There are several proposals for how to use the gas, but no decisions have yet been made, RUV reports.

Test drilling at the landfill site in Glerardalur began earlier this year and results are now available. The main finding was that methane production at the refuse tip is around 3.5 million cubic metres. The findings are very close to what was predicted before drilling began and it is believed 2 million cubic metres of gas could be commercially harnessed until the year 2029.

Franz Arnason, the president of Nordurorka Energy, says that the research was carried out purely to find out if the dump is producing enough methane to be worth capturing. The future is unclear, but some companies have already put forward the idea of capturing the gas and selling it as fuel for cars. There is also a proposal to open a carbon fibre factory. Arnason says that both ideas would be expensive to set up, and the problem is compounded by the tiny size of the methane market for cars.

It is believed, however, that the market will grow quite fast and that now is the time to start processing the gas as an automotive fuel. Anyone hoping to make the idea a reality in Akureyri will probably need to expect significant financial losses — at least to begin with. Methane from refuse is already being produced in Reykjavik.

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