DUBAI // A system to reduce the risk of fires at landfills is due to be piloted at one of Dubai's largest dumps next month.
Safety experts have welcomed the move by Dubai Municipality to launch a gas recovery scheme at the landfill at Al Qusais.
"It is a pilot project," said Naji Alradhi, the head of the waste treatment section at the municipality's Waste Management Department.
The system sucks out highly flammable methane gases that build up in waste sites and safely burns them. "We contacted a company to put it in Al Qusais and they are almost done," said Mr Alradhi.
Global Energy Solutions, which is setting up the system, says on its website that "landfill gas generated from the decay of organic matter contained in the waste disposed of in the landfill site would be captured and flared, preventing the emission of methane gas generated from the landfill into the atmosphere."
"The gas collection project is a trial. If it succeeds, we may expand it to other sites," said Mr Alradhi.
Landfill gas would be captured and routed to a high-temperature flare system for burning the methane.
Installation at other sites depends on the amount of waste dumped.
"It depends on the size of the landfill," said Mr Alradhi. "For a small landfill it is not feasible."
There are five dumping sites for more than 7,000 tonnes of general waste, including domestic waste, generated daily in Dubai. Al Qusais - established in the 1970s and spanning more than 3.5 kilometres - receives more than 4,000 tonnes.
The municipality hopes to use the collected methane gas to generate power or use as fuel.
"We have a plan to utilise this gas for power. But the first stage is to link the pipelines to control the gas," said Mr Alradhi.
A spokesman for Ceres Associates Gulf, an environmental waste management company in Ras Al Khaimah, welcomed the move.
"This is a very important system that will greatly improve safety in landfill sites," he said. "Methane, which is highly flammable, builds up in landfill sites with high levels of organic waste."
Methane makes up about 55 per cent of the gas in landfills and must be safely removed.
"In that environment, which is often very hot, it only takes the slightest thing, be it a spark or a mixing of combustible chemicals, for a fire to start," said the spokesman.
Glenn Platt, the environmental manager for Keo International Consultants, said all new landfills should be built with gas recovery systems in mind.
"Feasibility studies need to be carried out - there needs to be a balance in terms of investing in this technology and the potential benefits," he said.