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EPA grants University of Delaware $1 million to conduct research on reducing landfill emissions

A University of Delaware sign.
Delaware Public Media
University of Delaware
A University of Delaware sign.

The University of Delaware is one of five institutions getting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funding to examine reducing landfill emissions.

The $1 million grant will go towards the ongoing research of civil and environmental engineering professor Paul Imhoff, who has worked on landfill related research for 20 years.

Imhoff says the project uses data from new drone and satellite technology to measure methane emissions from landfill test sites in California and Georgia

“We’re combining those field measurements with atmospheric modeling to understand the magnitude of the problem of uncontrolled methane releases and any engineering practices that might reduce those emissions," he said.

Imhoff adds while the energy sector is the largest emitter of methane, the landfill industry is well-managed, meaning potential low-cost measures can be taken to manage its methane release.

“If we can improve the ability to control its release and diminish it – because methane is about, over 100 years, maybe 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – it can have a pretty significant effect on if you can reduce the emissions and potentially global warming," he said.

The research is already underway, but Imhoff says he and his team will start the next phase in January, expecting the project to last three years with the possibility of an extension.

Five institutions split the EPA’s $4.6 million grant – the winners were selected based on research proposals they submitted last October.

Before residing in Dover, DE, Sarah Petrowich moved around the country with her family, spending 8 years in Fairbanks, AK, ten years in Carbondale, IL and 4 years in Indianapolis, IN. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2023 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science.