May 8, 2006

BMW to power paint shop with landfill gas

Spartanburg, South Carolina – BMW Manufacturing Co. will use recycled methane gas generated by a nearby landfill site to provide energy for its paint shop in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

BMW is working with Durr Systems of Plymouth, Michigan to modify and upgrade equipment so that recycled methane gas from the Palmetto Landfill can be used as fuel. Although General Motors is the largest direct corporate user of landfill gas as a replacement for natural gas, with seven projects underway, BMW has become the first automotive paint shop to use landfill gas as fuel. (Ford uses a fumes-to-fuel system, which captures fumes from the paint shop, condenses them and uses that as fuel.)

BMW built a 15-km-long pipeline from the landfill to its facility in 2002; work on using the gas for the paint shop began in 2004. About half of BMW Manufacturing’s energy is now provided by the gas, saving the company at least US$1 million per year in energy costs. The paint department is the largest consumer of energy in any automotive manufacturing plant, with 50 per cent of energy used for controlling the process environment necessary for a quality finish.

The company estimates that by using the landfill gas, it is reducing area emissions of carbon dioxide by approximately 17,000 tons, and is recovering enough energy to heat 10,000 homes per year.

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