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Landfill Methane Outreach Program

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Project Profile

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Direct-Use Project

LMOP Award Winner
Greenbelt, Maryland
End User(s):
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)
Prince George's County Sandy Hill Landfill
Landfill Size:
5.13 million tons waste-in-place (2004)
Project Type:
Project Size:
1,480 standard cubic feet per minute (scfm)
$3.5 million over 10 years on energy costs (according to NASA)
Environmental Benefits:
Carbon sequestered annually by 3,900 acres of pine or fir forests, annual greenhouse gas emissions from 3,500 passenger vehicles, or carbon dioxide emissions from 42,900 barrels of oil consumed. Annual energy savings equate to heating 5,000 homes. Estimated emissions reductions of 0.0050 million metric tons of carbon equivalents.
LMOP Partners Involved:
CPL Systems, Inc., Horizon LFG, Inc., Prince George's County, Waste Management, Inc.
Last Updated:

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to appreciate the benefits of landfill gas (LFG), but it doesn't hurt. Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center jumped at a proposal by Toro Energy to reduce energy use in an environmentally sound manner without increasing operating expenses. Toro proposed to pipe LFG from a nearby landfill to use as fuel to heat the campus' buildings.

With the project's launch in 2003, the GSFC became the first federal facility to burn LFG to meet energy needs. LFG provides 100 percent of the facility's heating needs 95 percent of the time, saving the facility (and taxpayers) more than $3.5 million in energy costs over the next decade.

The project's highlights include the following:

  • 5.5-mile pipeline connects Sandy Hill Landfill to NASA.
  • Two boilers converted to burn LFG initially, plus a third one later.
  • Sophisticated control system allows boilers to burn fuel oil, natural gas, or LFG.
  • LFG produces steam to heat 31 buildings on the 1,270-acre NASA campus.

The project's launch also brought significant attention to NASA from top administrators. In a ribbon-cutting ceremony, both the EPA Administrator and NASA Administrator applauded the project's success.

Understanding and protecting our home planet is one of NASA's key missions. NASA monitors and studies our planet from our unique vantage point in space, and our Earth Sciences Enterprise also looks for ways to improve the quality of life on Earth. This project directly benefits the Earth by removing a significant amount of methane, a greenhouse gas, from the environment. We use this energy, virtually pollution-free, for power. Hopefully, projects like these will demonstrate the clean, efficient, cost-effective use of renewable sources of energy. —Sean O'Keefe, former NASA Administrator

It is very encouraging that a large federal institution like NASA is using a local landfill as a source of renewable energy. This project at Goddard Space Flight Center demonstrates how the federal government can lead the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and utilizing alternative energy sources. These efforts should be applauded. —Christie Todd Whitman, former EPA Administrator

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