MMSD Recycles Landfill Gas into Energy and Heat

Garbage Fueling Clean Water in Milwaukee

A local renewable energy source, landfill gas, is being recycled into power and heat at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility. Using landfill gas instead of natural gas at Jones Island reduces MMSD’s carbon footprint. MMSD purchases landfill gas at approximately half the cost of natural gas, helping MMSD customers save millions of dollars.

“Cleaning wastewater requires a tremendous amount of energy, especially when it rains,” said Kevin Shafer, MMSD Executive Director. “This project created jobs, is good for our customers' wallets, and the environment, reducing air pollution from traditional energy sources.”

By converting landfill gas into electricity, MMSD produces most of the electrical power needed at Jones Island during dry weather. Heavier demand during wet weather still requires supplementing that electrical power production with purchased electricity.

A 19-mile-long pipeline transports landfill gas from the Emerald Park Landfill in Muskego, Wisconsin, to MMSD’s Jones Island Facility in Milwaukee. Crews installed a new pipeline underground for most of the route, some 13.7 miles. It connects to an existing 5.3-mile-long pipeline previously used for conveying petroleum products. The green power pipeline moves landfill gas to Jones Island with a pressure under 100 pounds per square inch (PSI). By comparison, tires for some on-road bicycles are inflated to 95-135 PSI. Gas grill tanks hold propane at a range of 60 to 120 PSI.

Three turbines at Jones Island transform the landfill gas into electricity. They replaced a natural gas-burning turbine that was more than 40 years old. Large rotary kiln dryers at Jones Island can also combust landfill gas to produce heat and manufacture Milorganite® fertilizer.

Landfill Gas Pipeline Route

A map showing MMSD's landfill gas pipeline route

Landfill Gas System Components

MMSD Landfill gas system components