Title page for ETD etd-05102002-131001

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Kelly, Ryan J.
Author's Email Address rykelly@vt.edu
URN etd-05102002-131001
Title Solid Waste Biodegradation Enhancements and the Evaluation of Analytical Methods Used to Predict Waste Stability
Degree Master of Science
Department Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Novak, John T. Committee Chair
Evanylo, Gregory K. Committee Member
Goldsmith, C. Douglas Jr. Committee Member
  • Landfill
  • Bioreactor
  • Biodegradation
  • Solid Waste
Date of Defense 2002-05-02
Availability unrestricted
Conventional landfills are built to dispose of the increasing amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated each year. A relatively new type of landfill, called a bioreactor landfill, is designed to optimize the biodegradation of the contained waste to stabilized products. Landfills with stabilized waste pose little threat to the environment from ozone depleting gases and groundwater contamination. Limited research has been done to determine the importance of biodegradation enhancement techniques and the analytical methods that are used to characterize waste stability. The purpose of this research was to determine the effectiveness of several biodegradation enhancements and to evaluate the analytical methods which predict landfill stability.

In the first part of this study leachate recirculation, and moisture and temperature management were found to significantly affect the biodegradation of MSW. Leachate recirculation, increased moisture, and higher temperatures increased the first order degradation rates of cellulose and volatile solids. Of the three enhancements, temperature was shown to have the biggest impact on the biodegradation of waste, but sufficient moisture is critical for degradation. Plastic material was also shown to significantly impact the measurements for volatile solids and lignin, which is important if these measurements are used to establish waste stability.

In the second part of the study the analytical methods used to characterize waste were evaluated to determine if relationships existed between the methods and which methods were the best predictors of waste stability. Volatile solids and cellulose were found to be the best parameters to monitor waste in landfills. These parameters correlate well with each other, age of the waste, and other parameters. Volatile solids and cellulose are also relatively easy to determine, quick, and show little variation.

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