Schultze said Waste Management approached other states about the gas-to-liquids pilot project, but only Oklahoma regulators were willing to proceed with it. The state even provided grant money to get the project started.
He said the company learned to use the Fischer-Tropsch process developed during World War II to convert methane from decaying waste into clean-burning diesel and high-grade wax that can be used in cosmetics or lubricants. The wax also can be distilled into other petroleum products.
Schultze said 120 wells have been drilled into the 105-acre landfill to access the gas, which is moved to the surface with a vacuum. The wells generally produce their most gas in the first two years, but the flow can continue for up to 30 years.
He said it is difficult to estimate how much diesel and wax the plant will produce now that the pilot project is over, but the output of each product can be adjusted as the market dictates.
Schultze also said he is optimistic the technology can be used at other Waste Management facilities.
“I think it’s something we can apply in other areas,” he said.