Create the Future You Want to Live In
Ever wonder why transportation isn’t carbon negative? Why banana peels don’t power our cook stoves, or poop doesn’t power our garbage trucks? These are the questions Biomethane founder Kathlyn Kinney thinks about all the time. There are a lot of people around the country trying to crack these issues. At Biomethane, we believe the change can start right here in Spokane.
Did You Know?
- Energy from your sewage makes biogas that helps heat the City of Spokane wastewater plant.
- About half of that biogas is flared – or burned off – especially during the summer months.
- Two landfills, one wastewater plant and one dairy farm in Washington State already produce purified biogas – called biomethane or RNG (renewable natural gas) – and sell it into the pipeline, mostly to power vehicles. Of all natural gas vehicles in the US, 39% are already running on renewable natural gas.
- The City of Spokane is building a fleet of 90 natural gas garbage trucks. You’ve probably seen them running around town, advertising “Clean and Quiet” on their sides. All of these could run on renewable natural gas.
- One third of the waste entering our City Waste to Energy incinerator plant is food waste and wet organics. That’s more than two railroad cars per day. It’s too soggy to make energy through incineration, but would be a great source of biogas.
- Capturing and burning one molecule of methane is like sequestering 25 to 85 molecules of CO2, and releasing only one molecule – it’s that powerful of a greenhouse gas. Better still is when that methane displaces dirtier-burning diesel that would otherwise have been used to power vehicles. Because of this, renewable natural gas is one of very few energy sources that can be considered “carbon negative”. The only problem? A lot of biogas remains untapped, and few places have figured out how to make it pencil financially!
A Bit of Background
At Biomethane, we’ve been building the industry connections to make RNG – renewable natural gas – a thing in Spokane for the last three years, though you could say it started over 10 years ago, when Kathlyn began dabbling in cow gas at a farm in northwest Washington. Since moving to Spokane, it became her dream to start a company that would see 1000 projects across the country through to completion. Kathlyn has since performed feasibility studies for Spokane County and regionally for major companies McKinstry and Ameresco, talked with dozens of wastewater plant operators across the state, and specializes in understanding the local conditions that will make a project pencil. She’s committed to starting here, with our own resources, and showing the world it can be done.
What We’re Up to Now
The cool thing is, we have the resources here, and we’re doing it. Last summer, Kathlyn and a team of professionals including the heads of fellow Live Local participants The Lands Council and Resource Synergy put together a detailed $175,000 proposal to the EPA to financially assess and spur massive, multi-partner organic waste diversion throughout the Spokane region, reducing food thrown out and creating energy with the rest. We received letters of support from the City of Spokane Public Works Department, City Council, and Spokane County. While the proposal ranked highly, it wasn’t among those funded. So of course we’re not giving up, but instead turning to you, our community.
How You Can Be a Part of It
You may have already unwittingly contributed resources (we’ll call them “plops”) to the production of biogas in your local vicinity. Now for a limited time you have the chance to consciously maximize the carbon-offsetting potential of those resources, with the purchase of any number of “plops*” below.
Update: As of January 15, 2021, through the generosity of friends, family, and even awesome people I haven’t met yet, we have received $7,165 toward our feasibility work. This exceeds our $7,000 initial goal which puts us on track to form partnerships with the biggest nearby sources of organic waste – a move that allows us to gauge early feasibility and go after whole-project financing. The next $7,000 will go toward inventorying the wet organic waste coming into our Waste to Energy plant – where it is coming from and how much can be diverted. This will be a big step toward eliminating the 100,000 tons of organic waste (over 700 rail cars) that gets incinerated each year!
*Plops for purchase are virtual. You will be shipped nothing smelly.