Indiananapolis Plant Will Turn Landfill Gas Into Fuel For Long-Haul Trucks

Jun 14, 2019

A UPS truck in Beatty, Nevada, 2009
Credit Mark Holloway / Wikimedia Commons

  Kinetrex Energy will capture methane from the South Side Landfill and liquefy it into a fuel for shipping companies like UPS. Methane is one of the fastest growing greenhouse gas emissions that contributes to climate change. 

Kinetrex President & CEO Aaron Johnson says this will be the first renewable natural gas plant for the company, though it already fuels its trucking customers with gas purchased from other states.

He says Indiana actually plays a big role in the renewable natural gas market — whether it's distribution, storage, or making engines that can use the fuel.

“People often don’t think of Indiana as kind of a green or alternative fuels state or area, but we’re actually kind of the backbone behind a lot of this stuff,” Johnson says.

Johnson says for trucks that use regular natural gas, little to no changes need to be made in order for them to use renewable natural gas. He estimates that the renewable natural gas the Indianapolis plant produces will replace more than 8 million gallons of diesel fuel.

Devinder Mahajan is the director of the Institute of Gas Innovation and Technology at Stony Brook University. He says that because more than 60 percent of the energy we use stays in waste, this fuel has a lot of potential.

“No question that you will start seeing RNG in a big way,” Mahajan says.

Danica Sarlya is the center program manager at the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy Operation. She says because there is some uncertainty about whether the Renewable Fuel Standard will be renewed, some companies are hesitant to invest in the technology.

Mahajan says since the U.S. gets most of its electricity from coal and natural gas, trucks that use renewable natural gas are actually greener than electric ones. He says the process also takes out some harmful waste byproducts like hydrogen sulfide.

Manure can also be used to create renewable natural gas. A plant in northern Indiana does this with manure from Fair Oaks Farms, a dairy recently accused of animal abuse.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.