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Stabilisation of waste in shallow test cells: focus on biogas.

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Present day society generates large volumes of waste that present an environmental hazard when disposed of in landfills. As our population grows, so does the volume of waste generated and hence the threat to our environment. One method of reducing harmful emissions in landfills is the mechanical-biological pretreatment of waste prior to landfilling. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the degree of stabilization of waste in shallow landfills (simulated by test cells) with particular focus on biogas production and quality. Municipal waste was composted in aerobic, open windrows for periods of eight and sixteen weeks. Five test cells, designed and operated according to the PAF model (Pretreatment, Aeration and Flushing) were constructed at the Bisasar Road landfill site. These cells were used to simulate large scale municipal landfill sites. They were filled with fresh and pretreated waste and were used to monitor the dynamics of prolonged aeration and degradation of waste over a period of six months. The cells were monitored on a weekly basis while being aerated. Two flushing events were conducted at the beginning of the passive aeration. Gas emissions were also monitored by recording the methane, carbon dioxide and oxygen volumes per volume of air in probes strategically placed in each cell. These results were then analysed to assess the effect of mechanical-biological pretreatment of municipal solid waste on the emission quality of sanitary landfills and the appropriateness of prolonging the aeration in shallow landfills, as often used in sub-tropical countries. It was found that the design of the test cells was appropriate for the landfilling and stabilization of waste that was aerobically treated. After six months in the test cells, analysis of the waste from each cell showed that the waste was completely degraded. The PAF model, when applied to shallow landfills, is very effective in stabilising waste and would be appropriate for a sub-tropical climate. Waste that is pretreated, placed in shallow landfills, initially flushed and then aerated over a six month period was fully stabilized. The requirement for such treatment would be relatively small amounts of waste, a wet climate and the availability of open space for shallow landfills. This method, therefore, would be very appropriate in a South African context. The major problem with this method may be the generation of large quantities of leachate which will have to be treated and disposed of in an environmentally safe manner.


Thesis (M.Sc.Eng.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2006.


Hazardous waste--Stabilisation., Sanitary landfills--Environmental aspects., Theses--Civil engineering.