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Money For Old Rope – An Anaerobic Digestion Article With Historic Significance


Carbon cycle NASA for Anaerobic digestion article“Money for old rope?” is an article first recorded in the Internet Archive “Wayback machine” on 16 December 2008. It is an article with historic significance to the development of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Industry. It is listed in Wikipedia’s Anaerobic Digestion Article as a reference article, for its high quality technical and scientific content, and is written in a way which is accessible to most readers. But beyond that, it provides a historic insight for future generations, into the context in which landfill was thought of, at the time when the anaerobic digestion process used in biogas plants was first emerging as a proven technology, able to reduce carbon emissions.
It is the combined effort of five US authors (Morton Barlaz, Amy Banister, Gary Hater, Jeffrey Chanton and Roger Green), three of whom were at the time University Professors, and weighs-in at approximately 2,400 words long.
Readers who take a general interest in global warming, and climate change issues, should find this article rewarding to read. ( link is provided below.) However, they should (in the author’s opinion) bear in mind the following historical context and updated information.
We created this review and update page in order to repair a broken link in Wikipedia.  We provide a link to the current article location in order to preserve this important article reference. For copyright reasons we are unable to provide a copy of the original article here. However, we have included ALL the content provided within the article which is pertinent to the reference at .

Ref 47: Referenced Portion of “Money for old rope?” Article is Copied Below:

To understand biodegradation, it is useful to think about the biodegradable fraction of waste. Cellulose [(C6H10O5)n] and hemicellulose [(C5H8O4)n] are the major biodegradable components of waste; the other major organic component, lignin (a structural component of wood) is largely not degradable under typical landfill conditions.

Residential waste contains 40-50% cellulose, 7-10% hemicellulose and 10-20% lignin. The cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin contents of various types of paper, food waste and yard waste …

Under anaerobic conditions, the decomposition of cellulose and hemicellulose can be described by equations (2) and (3):

(C6H10O5)n + nH2O ’ 3nCO2 + 3nCH4 (2)

(C5H8O4)n + nH2O ’ 2.5nCO2 + 2.5nCH4 (3)

Equations (2) and (3) are simplifications of a complex series of reactions involving communities of microorganisms.

[End of Ref 47.]

Historical Contextᅠ

In 2008 anaerobic digestion processing facilities were for the first time being seen as a mainstream contender for renewable energy investment, and a potential competitor with landfill for the disposal of organic materials. Since the article was written, the principle of reducing carbon disposed to landfills has moved on. This is especially true in Europe where regulations to ensure the progressive diversion of carbon away from landfills (and “Zero Waste” policy) is now well advanced. Seven years later, the anaerobic digestion industry is now gearing-up to take many organic wastes, including food waste, instead of their being sent to landfill.ᅠ

About the Article

The article is sub-headed “Tracking the carbon in landfill management”, and has the following sub-sections:ᅠ
  • Trends in landfilling
  • The biodegradation process
  • The carbon cycle and climate change
  • I’m concerned about climate change. Is waste decomposition in a landfill good?
  • What is the relationship between carbon sequestration and landfill gas?
  • Carbon sequestration and the drivers to measure carbon
Their anaerobic digestion article makes a detailed case for the benefits of landfill as a de-facto carbon sequestration system, as long as landfill gas (methane) capture is carried out on all landfills and assiduously applied to prevent all but a small proportion of the methane (biogas) generated by landfills, entering the atmosphere. However, the authors do not suggest that the US authorities should move to control landfill carbon emissions, instead they make a plea for much better measurement, and high quality data to be collected, so that scientific review of the impact of (US) landfill emissions can take place.ᅠ

Differences in Approach Between the US and Europe

In contrast, comprehensive landfill gas management has been a legal requirement embodied in landfill regulation throughout the EU’s founding nations, since around the start of this century. (It is the author’s view that the case for landfill sequestration has always been discounted and largely ignored by waste management professionals and policy makers, on this side of the Atlantic.)
As can be seen from the “Money from Old Rope” article, the same has not been true in the US. The opportunity to limit methane emissions and produce renewable(alternative) energy from the collected landfill gas which landfill gas capture provides, has only recently become an EPA priority. The first US national policy for landfill methane emissions (landfill gas) capture emerged during 2013, and is proceeding.

Summary – Quoted Text Fromᅠ”Money for Old Rope”

For those that do not have the time to read the “Money for Old Rope” article in full, we quote the following summary statements from the article:
“In summary, landfills generate methane during waste decomposition. This methane can be captured and converted to energy. Therefore, capturing landfill gas is good for climate change. Sequestering, or permanently storing carbon in the landfill, is also helpful.”
“It is vital for landfill owners to maintain accurate records on the quantities and composition of the waste entering their landfills and for policymakers to recognize the value of landfills in carbon sequestration. Proper accounting for carbon sequestration in landfills must be included in landfill emissions protocols to document actual greenhouse gas emissions at landfills.”ᅠ

Web Archive.Org Article Link

The original “Money for Old Rope” article is available here:
Technical Note: The original article link would show as a broken link in Wikipedia if used. This is due to the fact that the management of Waste Management World have placed a “robots” text-file on this location on their server which requires that search engines do not list the link.)

One Response to Money For Old Rope – An Anaerobic Digestion Article With Historic Significance

  1. Sara Morgan February 28, 2015 at 2:22 am #

    You have encouraged me to get started on my own AD task. Thanks Again.

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