How Everyday Products Are Supercharging Methane, and What That Means


“Siloxanes” could be key to deriving bolstered energy production from biogas.

Synthetic compounds increasingly used in everyday products like shampoo and motor oil are finding their way into landfills and supercharging the biogas those landfills produce, researchers at the University of Michigan have found. While it’s a problem today, the researchers say it could be an opportunity to get more energy out of landfill gas.

The compounds, called “siloxanes,” are efficient at conducting heat and interacting with water, and as such their popularity has increased in a variety of consumer products. That means more and more siloxanes are headed to your local landfill.

Biogas refers to fuel gases that are synthesized from different biological or organic feedstocks like landfill gas and wastewater treatment plants. In recent years, it has become clear that siloxanes have been damaging the power-generating equipment that’s fueled with landfill gas. But the researchers say the siloxanes could actually be harnessed to produce more energy.

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