WEWOKA — Most businesses probably wouldn't want to have a landfill next door, but it is working out well for Commercial Brick Corp.
The Wewoka Biogas Project was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from WCA Waste Corp.'s Sooner Landfill in Wewoka, while providing cheaper fuel to the nearby Commercial Brick Corp. plant. The annual reduction of greenhouse gases attributable to the project are about the same as:
Greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 6,800 passenger vehicles
• Carbon dioxide emissions from consuming more than 82,000 barrels of oil
• Carbon sequestered annually by nearly 7,600 acres of pine or fir forests
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's
landfill methane outreach program
The family-owned brickmaker is getting biogas from the WCA Waste Corp. landfill about a quarter mile north of its plant.
The Wewoka Biogas Project, which is providing methane to one of Commercial's four kilns, was dedicated Friday by a host of officials from the companies involved in making it happen.
William Brinker, operations manager of project developer Enerdyne Power Systems Inc., said the project grew out of a WCA initiative to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. That meshed with Commercial's quest to find a way to reduce its energy costs.
“It just makes economic sense because we're displacing other fossil fuels,” Brinker said.
Companies like eBay, Designtex and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters helped finance the project by buying carbon offsets.
Brinker said decomposing trash in the Sooner Landfill creates methane, the main component in natural gas.
It is collected by 14 vertical wells drilled into the landfill.
The gas is processed at an adjacent blower station to remove excess water and then sent over to the brick plant.
Commercial President Bob Hartsock said the company always is looking for ways to save money on fuel.
“This just made perfect sense,” he said.
Hartsock's company makes about 156 million bricks a year, running its natural gas-fired kilns nonstop, 24 hours a day.
Hartsock said companies often try to build brick plants near landfills to take advantage of available biogas, but Commercial had the luxury of having a landfill built about a quarter mile from its plant.
“All we had to do was retrofit our burners to accept the methane gas,” he said.
Hartsock said it is too soon to know how much the biogas project will save in fuel costs, but the arrangement will allow Commercial to remain competitive in a tough environment.
The deal means gas from the landfill always will be cheaper than natural gas.
“That's where it's really a home run for you,” he said.
Hartsock said he is looking forward to drawing more methane from the landfill over time.
“The more waste they get out there the more it will generate,” Hartsock said.