One person’s trash...

July 25, 2013 

Johnston County’s cup runneth over, what with Smithfield’s Ava Gardner Museum, a noted outlet mall and some of the state’s best barbecue.

And speaking of running over, there’s this matter of trash and the fact that all it does is sit around landfills like the one in Johnston County and take up space. Only Johnston has a better idea. To understand it, one has to grasp how landfill trash has been put to work.

Trash, you see, produces gasses (methane, carbon dioxide) as it decomposes. And that’s not good because methane in the atmosphere is a greenhouse gas, a wicked influence on the environment. But in Johnston County, companies have partnered to collect the gas and convert it to energy. It’s collected with pipes put into landfill trash, and the gas is heated and cooled to get the moisture out.

The gas then goes to a generator which turns it into electricity, and that is added to the power grid through Duke Energy Progress. And even after a landfill is closed, the gas hangs around and thus the landfill still can be used for gas collection. In Johnston, about 1,500 homes are run by this new kind of “trash pickup” system. The notion is positively electrifying.

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