Abstract for:Harnessing Landfills for Energy Production

Landfills, confined animal feed operations, and publicly owned treatment works in the United States can be at the source of environmental problems such as eutrophication of water bodies and release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. However, multiple conversion alternatives are available to capture and convert organic waste streams into useful energy. Our work is part of a multi-year project that aims to understand the possible evolution paths for waste-to-energy systems within these types of facilities. A core component of this work involves the development, refinement, and analysis of a set of dynamic models that represent waste-to-energy technology adoption dynamics. Here, we describe a dynamic model that focuses on landfills in California and addresses multiple methodological challenges, including:

Representation of the materials balance associated with deposition and decomposition of mixed organic and inorganic materials.

The use of discrete events within a continuous system to represent processes such as closing of facilities and investment in waste-to-energy technology when a variety of investment options at multiple scales are possible.

Additionally, we show results from a multi-variate sensitivity analysis conducted with the simulation model. This sensitivity analysis shows how certain existing and possible state policies could impact both energy production and methane gas emissions.