Renewable natural gas plant online at Medora Landfill

MEDORA — Rumpke Waste & Recycling spent several years looking for a partner willing to build renewable natural gas plants at some of its small and medium facilities.

In 2019, Archaea Energy came aboard.

With the recent completion of the plant next to the Medora Landfill, Rumpke has six landfill gas-to-energy projects online in its network of landfills.

What makes the Medora site unique is it’s the first plant to come online since bp’s acquisition of Archaea in December 2022, and it’s the first Archaea Modular Design renewable natural gas plant.

“I want to thank Archaea Energy for their foresight and their entrepreneurial spirit in building this plant and having the courage to step forward to build plants like this and thank bp for the vision to see the value and possibility of this plant,” Jeff Rumpke, area president of Rumpke, said during a ceremony Wednesday near the plant.

“This is a great partnership,” he said. “We’re going to be a great partner for them, and we’re expecting them to be a great partner for us, too. I love the project. Very happy to be here and very happy to have this plant up and running. It’s exciting. It’s really a neat thing.”

Landfill gas, a natural byproduct of the decomposition of waste in landfills, is a form of greenhouse gas. Using the Archaea Modular Design, the Medora plant captures the gas from Rumpke’s landfill and converts it to electricity, heat or renewable natural gas, which leads to cleaner air, less odor and more sustainable energy when compared with traditional fossil fuel energy, according to a news release from bp’s Archaea Energy.

The Medora plant can process 3,200 cubic feet of landfill gas per minute into renewable natural gas, enough gas to heat around 13,026 homes annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Gas Energy Benefits Calculator.

“What we are doing at the Medora plant is phenomenal, and it’s just the beginning of what’s to come at Archaea,” Starlee Sykes, CEO of Archaea Energy, said in the news release. “This is a powerful step forward in our net zero journey to capture landfill emissions and provide customers with lower emission, lower carbon fuel.”

She said the goal is to safely bring several Archaea Modular Design plants online this year.

“I’m in awe of our team who designed, engineered and built this facility, and we can’t wait to bring more online across the U.S.,” Sykes said.

Traditionally, renewable natural gas plants have been custom-built. The Archaea Modular Design, however, allows plants to be built on skids with interchangeable components. Using a standardized modular design leads to faster builds than previous industry standards, according to the news release.

“Our family company is constantly looking for technologies to lessen our overall impact and further our efforts to protect and preserve the environment,” Rumpke said. “The addition of Archaea Energy’s RNG plant at our site will help further reduce emissions and give residents and businesses assurance that their waste is not only being properly disposed of but also being put to good use.”

Rumpke said the Medora Landfill receives nearly 2,300 tons of waste materials a day. With this plant, all of those tons of waste will have an opportunity to have an afterlife, powering homes, businesses and vehicles.

“This plant is expected to produce enough gas to power 13,000 homes, but more importantly, the plant will provide our customers the peace of mind of knowing that not only is your trash being responsibly disposed, but it’s being responsibly reused,” he said.

Hillary Ladig, senior communications coordinator for Rumpke, said operations started to ramp up at the plant on Sept. 25.

“They are operating at about 50% of their capacity just to kind of ramp up operations, make sure that everything is flowing and working properly, but they are sending gas to the pipeline right now,” she said. “It’ll probably be operating full capacity end of November.”

She said the plant will convert the gases collected from the landfill, primarily methane gas, into natural gas. The pipeline runs east to a station near imi Aggregates just west of Brownstown for distribution.

“It’s being shared with the region as a clean energy source,” Ladig said.

Will Burton, executive vice president of engineering development and operations for Archaea Energy, said the modular design at the Medora plant can be standardized, replicated and scaled across the company’s pipeline of more than 80 projects.

“It’ll help deliver these facilities not only to valued partners like Rumpke but other partners,” he said.

“We’re truly excited about this being our first one. We’ve learned a ton through it. It has taken longer than we originally expected, but I’m so incredibly proud of the team … because it’s really their efforts that have led us to this day,” he said. “At Archaea, we are truly passionate about what we do, and this plant is a testament to that, a testament to all of the time to reimagine energy.”

Sykes said it took everyone working together to get the plant online.

“Partners matter, and I know we’ve got a great one,” she said in reference to Rumpke.

She also thanked the Archaea team.

“This has been a lot of hard work, long hours, a lot of time from family and friends,” Sykes said. “I just want to thank you and appreciate all of the work put in to get to this day. It’s fantastic.”

Archaea is the largest renewable natural gas producer in the United States, and bp’s ambition is to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and help the world get to net zero, according to the news release.

Rumpke has been around for 90 years. It services customers in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia and operates 14 landfills and 14 recycling centers. The Medora Landfill has been in operation since 1983, and a recycling facility was added in 2017.