LIHUE >> Kauai County is planning for a more sustainable future by using methane gas generated from decaying organic matter in the Kekaha landfill to power the public bus fleet.
The project is part of a long-term strategy to reduce the island’s dependence on fossil fuels, reported The Garden Island Tuesday.
The first step in the plan is to build a biogas collection system, which the county has already prepared for by allocating $5 million in the Capital Improvement Projects budget for the 2016 fiscal year that begins July 1.
According to Energy and Sustainability Manager Ben Sullivan, construction of the biogas collection system is scheduled to be completed by December 2016.
The collection system captures methane gas in order to prevent the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Tests will follow to see if the quality and amount of gas generated by the landfill is sufficient in order to move on to the next stage of the process.
“If after six months it looks good, then we can proceed to refining the gas,” Sullivan said.
The refined gas would need to be turned into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) that could then be used to power vehicles.
Estimates predict the county could capture and convert enough biogas to replace up to 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day, which is approximately double the amount used by the bus fleet today.
The county recently purchased 20 new buses to replace older ones in the Kauai Bus fleet of 56 vehicles. Those buses are expected to last about 150,000 miles, which means it could be five to seven years until they are taken out of service and replaced with new buses that run on CNG.
Plans to purchase new buses capable of running on CNG fuel have yet to be put in place.