Clean Energy Fuels natural gas refueling station Long Beach, California.Enlarge Photo
If you're looking for an alternative fuel, why not try garbage?
Or, rather, the methane produced by landfills.
Clean Energy Fuels--a developer of natural gas refueling infrastructure--has now been selling a methane-based fuel at its network of filling stations in California for about a month, according to The New York Times.
The fuel is available at more than 40 stations in the Golden State, and is mostly bought by large corporations and fleets.
Customers include AT&T, Mattel, Williams-Sonoma, and Hertz. Clean Energy Fuels hopes to sell 15 million gallons of the new fuel--called Redeem--in the state this year.
Methane, captured from sources like landfills, farms, and wastewater treatment plants, has many of the same benefits as conventional natural gas.
Like natural gas, methane is significantly cheaper than gasoline or diesel. It's also produced domestically from a "renewable" source. Those landfills aren't going anywhere.
Before modern trapping and collection technology became the norm for capped landfills, methane was sometimes simply vented to the atmosphere.
But while methane is a clean-burning fuel, unlike other transportation fuels, it's reportedly better to burn it than not.
When allowed to escape directly into the atmosphere, methane acts as a greenhouse gas.
However, in addition to creating some very awkward dinner conversations, methane may also have some of the same drawbacks as conventional natural gas.
While natural gas may be a viable fuel for fleet operators, there are few filling stations open to the public.
And in the cars themselves, the large high-pressure tanks required to store enough natural gas to provide adequate range compromise interior space.