BMW Manufacturing Co. will use recycled methane gas generated by the Palmetto Landfill near Spartanburg, SC, to provide energy to its paint shop.
BMW is working with long-standing partner Durr Systems of Plymouth, Mich., to modify and upgrade equipment so landfill gas (LFG) can be used to fuel the paint shop. Durr Systems specializes in developing and implementing energy performance projects in industrial facilities and is a partner in the Environmental Protections Agency’s (EPA) Landfill Methane Outreach Program.
BMW now is the first automotive paint shop to integrate the use of landfill gas in its process equipment. General Motors, with seven LFG projects underway, is the largest direct, corporate user of landfill gas (LFG) as a replacement for natural gas in the United States. (Earlier post.)
BMW Manufacturing built a 9.5-mile pipeline from the landfill to its facility in 2002 to provide some of the plant’s energy needs. With today’s announcement, about half of BMW Manufacturing’s energy is now provided by this renewable resource, saving the company at least $1 million per year in energy costs.
Work on using LFG for the paint shop began in 2004.
The paint department is the largest consumer of energy in any automotive manufacturing plant. Fifty percent of our energy is used in the paint department for controlling the process environment that is a necessity for a quality surface finish.—Dara Leadford, engineering section manager
(Ford’s fumes-to-fuel system takes a different approach to powering the paint shop: capturing the fumes from the paint shop, condensing them, and using the resulting VOCs stream as a fuel to generate electricity than then is used back in the paint shop. Earlier post.)
By utilizing previously unused energy from landfill gas, BMW Manufacturing is reducing area emissions of carbon dioxide by approximately 17,000 tons and is recovering enough energy to heat 10,000 homes per year. The quantity of greenhouse gases reduced is the equivalent of driving a car around the globe 4,300 times, or more than 100 million miles.
Three of our core principles are innovation, protecting the environment, and being a good corporate citizen. This is such a positive for everyone involved. There literally hasn’t been a downside to this project. This project allows us to take a previously wasted energy source and use it to generate electricity, which protects the environment and our community through lower emissions.—Briggs Hamilton, BMW Manufacturing’s environmental section manager
BMW’s other partners in this project are Ameresco Energy Services and Waste Management Inc.