According to a recent report from the University of Texas, Arlington, researchers are in final stages of developing a highly advanced sensor technology that can potentially aid in creating a secondary source of energy in Ghana by increasing the rate of methane production in the country’s ELR operations.
Melanie Sattler and Sahadat Hossain, two UT Arlington associate professors in Civil Engineering, received a grant to study the landfill gas feasibility as an energy source, which was awarded by the Global Methane Initiative (in association with the Environmental Protection Agency).
The UT Arlington team working on the project for Ghana have hands-on experience with ELR technology in Texas: the Enhanced Leachate Recirculation landfill of Texas was also implemented with the help and collaboration of Sahadat Hossain. Currently, the landfill in Denton, Texas is operational and generating energy that is satisfying the power needs of over 3000 homes.
Sahadat Hossain recently commented:
“This development has the potential to take the project and technology worldwide,” Hossain said of the EPA-funded project. “We already know the system works. We just have to show the EPA and Ghana officials that it’s feasible in that country.”
Additionally, the team at UT Arlington has received another contract that is focused primarily at improving the production of methane in the Corpus Christi landfill system, which was awarded by a Dallas, Texas based CP&Y engineering firm.
The dean of the University of Texas, Arlington, Khosrow Behbehani, is very happy with the team’s effort to generate and improve potential resources for the production of energy. He commented:
“This kind of research, born in the labs of a major, public university, has the potential to help people and cities across the globe. Professors Hossain and Sattler are engaged not only in elevating an alternative energy source, they also are shaping technology that appeals to consumers, industry and environmentalists alike.”
How does the Enhanced Leachate Recirculation landfill create energy?
The mode of production of methane is the same, i.e. decomposition of organic matter to released carbon-rich gases; however, if water molecules are also added in a controlled manner, the process of decomposition can be increased. In an ELR set-up, leachate plays the role of infected or contaminated water that can easily sweep through the layers of decomposing debris and organic matter. Additionally, it is also challenging to monitor the movement of moisture after the addition of water. Any miscalculation or roadblock can potentially affect the performance of ELR.
But the sensor device developed by Sattler and Hossain can help in controlling as well as monitoring the flow and movement of water by a resistive method of imaging. The benefits of using a moisture sensor during an ELR operation to landfill managers are:
– knowing the efficiency and progress of ELR operation.
– knowing when to recirculate the status of fluid or liquid.
Other Personnel Involved in the Project
Huda Shihada, a doctoral graduate, assisted Hossain in the development of this functional model that can ascertain moisture concentration without any invasive testing. The PhD lecturer, Benjamin Afotey, will be working on the project in Ghana. Affiliated with Kwami Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, Benjamin Afotey will play a crucial role in the success of this project, as suggested by Sattler:
“Ben’s involvement in the field in Ghana will be vital to the success of the project. He and his students will do the necessary field work to measure the success of the system.”
(Dr. Afotey earned his PhD under him). Sattler and Hossain suggested that the development and advancements in the generation of energy resources makes Ghana a model state for other African nations.
About the Global Methane Initiative:
The international organization has been working with private sector agencies as well as extensive network of countries that are looking to control and reduce the emission of methane — an integral constituent of natural gas that can be used as a potential source of energy.
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