Evaluation of Stability Parameters for Landfills

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Virginia Tech

There are more than three thousand landfills in the United States, in which approximately 55% (1998, U. S. EPA 1999) of the MSW generated in the US is buried. The majority of the landfills are conventional, but in the last two decades new types of landfills, called leachate recycle and bioreactor landfills, have been designed and tested as an enhanced environment for biochemical degradation of municipal solid waste. All the landfills are regulated under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The shortage of time and money has limited the amount of research done on waste stability analysis. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the importance of lignocelluloses in biodegradation and the secondary settlement based on dry density and typical landfill evaluating parameters.

Both parts of the study samples were collected and analyzed from eleven landfills. In the first part of the study, bioreactor landfills were found more effective, faster in the degradation of VS and cellulose as compared to conventional landfills. The time required for stabilization is reduced to about 1/3 that of conventional landfills. The lignocelluloses degradation that occurs in these landfills is happening in two phases. In the initial, rapid degradation phase, the primary degradation substrate is cellulose. In the second phase, after cellulose degraded to 15-20% of the waste, degradation of the remaining cellulose along with lignin and the hemicelluloses takes place. The start of lignin and hemicellulose degradation results in an increase in the biochemical methane potential (BMP).

In the second part of the study, the addition of moisture to the landfills presented a contentious issue. Moisture is encouraged for MSW refuse degradation, but for settlement it reduces compressibility. In leachate recycle landfills, the dry density is higher than in conventional landfills; therefore there is more available room for further MSW load. The increase can reach up to 40 percent in total volume.

Bioreactor, Biodegradation, Settlement, Landfill, Lignocelluloses, Dry Density, Solid Waste