About the Project
The MWMC has embarked on an exciting project to purify biogas to produce renewable natural gas (RNG). Biogas is a byproduct of the anaerobic digestion process, which treats and stabilizes solids at the MWMC’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. Biogas is comprised of methane and carbon dioxide. The new equipment installed as part of this project “scrubs” the biogas to strip it of carbon dioxide and other contaminants, resulting in pure methane/natural gas.
In 2021, construction of biogas purification facilities on the MWMC’s Wastewater Treatment Plant grounds was completed, along with NW Natural’s receipt point facility. The MWMC first injected gas into the NW Natural pipeline in November 2021, becoming the first public agency in Oregon to do so.
Through this project, the majority of biogas the MWMC produces will be converted into RNG and then injected into NW Natural’s pipeline system. RNG can help to offset dirtier fossil fuels, resulting in air quality benefits and emissions reductions. Previously, the MWMC utilized about 60% of its biogas to power the treatment plant, and the remaining 40% was flared to the atmosphere. This project will enable us to minimize flaring and convert nearly all the biogas to clean energy.
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On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the MWMC celebrated the launch of our new RNG facilities with a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony. Check out the video below to watch the full recorded ceremony.
Construction of the facilities is now complete, and the MWMC began injecting gas into NW Natural’s pipeline in November 2021. Now, optimization of the system continues with consistent continual gas recovery expected in the near future.
The MWMC is committed to protecting the environment and recovering resources from the wastewater treatment process. There are many environmental benefits of producing RNG:
- Using RNG replaces fossil fuels with a clean vehicle fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The MWMC expects an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of as much as 7,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. That’s equal to removing 1,600 passenger vehicles from the road.
- Utilizing RNG rather than fossil fuels is an important step toward meeting the City of Eugene’s climate change policies. With RNG, we close the loop on waste and provide meaningful emissions reduction that supports Eugene’s Community Climate Action Plan.
- Methane is a natural byproduct of the wastewater treatment process. Producing RNG will allow all of the gas to be beneficially used.
- RNG is a clean vehicle fuel that can offset dirtier fossil fuels like diesel, resulting in air quality benefits.
RNG will potentially provide the MWMC with an additional revenue source, by selling the gas and its renewable fuel credits to an off-taker that will use it for fueling vehicles.
The MWMC is committed to the safety of the community, its neighbors, and employees. The MWMC has preventative measures in place to ensure safety with Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) at the wastewater treatment plant, including maintenance practices, staff training, and equipment requirements. Biogas, which is similar to RNG, has been safely handled at the wastewater treatment plant in Eugene since it began operating in the 1950s.
NW Natural has one of the tightest and most modern pipeline systems in the nation. It was one of the first gas utilities in the U.S. to remove cast iron and bare steel piping from its system – and replace it with high quality coated steel or polyethylene pipe. NW Natural works closely with regulators to ensure its system is safe and reliable, in order to meet or exceed all state and federal regulations.
Mark Van Eeckhout, Project Manager
Loralyn Spiro, Lead Communications Coordinator