What is landfill gas composed of?
Landfill gas is composed of a mixture of hundreds of different gases. By volume, landfill gas typically contains 45% to 60% methane and 40% to 60% carbon dioxide. Landfill gas also includes small amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, ammonia, sulfides, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and nonmethane organic compounds (NMOCs) such as trichloroethylene, benzene, and vinyl chloride. How is landfill gas produced? Three processes—bacterial decomposition, volatilization, and chemical reactions—form landfill gas. Bacterial decomposition Most landfill gas is produced by bacterial decomposition, which occurs when organic waste is broken down by bacteria naturally present in the waste and in the soil used to cover the landfill. Organic wastes include food, garden waste, street sweepings, textiles, and wood and paper products. Bacteria decompose organic waste in four phases, and the composition of the gas changes during each phase. Volatilization Landfill gases can be created when certain wastes, particularly o