SCS Energy: Sustainable Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project at the University of New Hampshire Continues to Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions

EcoLine™ is a landfill gas-to-energy project that uses purified landfill gas from a local landfill to provide up to 85 percent of campus power. In 2007 the University of New Hampshire (UNH) engaged SCS Engineers to design, build, and operate an advanced technology landfill gas processing facility. When EcoLine™ started in May 2009; UNH became the first university in the nation to use landfill gas as its primary fuel source.

EcoLine™ is a partnership with Waste Management’s Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise (TREE) Facility in Rochester, NH where the naturally occurring by-product of landfill decomposition is collected via a state-of-the-art collection system consisting of more than 300 extraction wells and miles of collection pipes. After the raw landfill gas LFG) is purified via a multi-step process including compression, dehydration, VOC removal, and carbon dioxide removal, the processed landfill gas (PLG) travels through a 12.7-mile pipeline from the landfill to UNH’s cogeneration plant, where it replaces commercial natural gas as the primary fuel source.

UNH’s cogeneration plant captures waste heat normally lost during the production of electricity and uses this energy to generate steam to heat campus buildings. UNH is selling the renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated by using landfill gas to help finance the overall cost of the project and to invest in additional energy efficiency projects on campus.

To handle any additional landfill gas that is generated by the project, a second turbine runs solely on extra landfill gas for power to be exported for sale to the New England power grid. PLG is also the primary fuel for the backup heating plant that serves the campus when the cogeneration facility cannot meet maximum load or if that system is offline.
The emissions from power production on campus have dropped dramatically with the investment in onsite cogeneration and fuel switching to use processed landfill gas instead of natural gas and fuel oil. According to the university’s Fiscal Year 2010-2011 Green House Gas Emissions (GHGE) inventory, UNH’s Scope 1 GHGEs are expected to continue their downward trajectory. To further reduce campus emissions the university utilizes waste steam in the summer months to produce chilled water via three (3) absorption chillers to cool its buildings.

UNH’s programs are resourceful and being integrated into every aspect of the university’s culture. It comes as no surprise that the university is recognized for its leadership in sustainability:

  • Platinum STARS Rating from AASHE in 2017
  • Second STARS Gold Rating from AASHE – as of August 2014 only 17 other campuses reached gold under the STARS 2.0.
  • Named a Green College by the Princeton Review
  • A Founding Signatory of the Alliance for Campus Resilience
  • First Energy Star-rated Residence Hall in the US

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) engaged SCS Engineers to design, build, and operate an advanced technology landfill gas processing facility. The facility converts raw landfill gas, with an energy value of approximately 530 Btu per cubic foot, to a product gas with a higher energy value by removal of carbon dioxide. In addition to increasing the energy content of the landfill gas, the facility removes moisture, hydrogen sulfides, siloxanes, and other deleterious compounds from the landfill gas. The design inlet capacity of the facility is 7,600 standard cubic feet per minute (scfm) or 10.9 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd).

UNH’s energy demand varies seasonally and excess product gas is utilized when available. SCS evaluated the technical and economic feasibility of using the excess product gas and recommended installation of a 4.6 MW simple cycle combustion turbine at the University’s existing power plant.

The University of New Hampshire LFGE project also employs two Caterpillar 3520 engine/generators (gensets) to provide power for the landfill gas processing facility. The gensets have a gross power generation capacity of 3.2 megawatts (MW).

SCS’s responsibilities on this project included:

  • Utility Interconnection
  • Detailed Design
  • Equipment Procurement
  • Construction QA/QC
  • Construction
  • Plant Startup
  • Ongoing Operation and Maintenance
  • SCADA system using SCS’s proprietary iSCADA technology plantwide


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