Reducing Open Cell Landfill Methane Emissions with a Bioactive Alternative Daily

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Methane and carbon dioxide are formed in landfills as wastes degrade. Molecule-for-molecule, methane is about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere, and thus, it is the methane emissions from landfills that are scrutinized. For example, if emissions composed of 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide were changed to a mix that was 40% methane and 60% carbon dioxide, a 30% reduction in the landfill's global warming potential would result. A 10% methane, 90% carbon dioxide ratio will result in a 75% reduction in global warming potential compared to the baseline. Gas collection ... continued below

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Hilger, Helene; Oliver, James; Bogner, Jean & Jones, David March 31, 2009.

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Description

Methane and carbon dioxide are formed in landfills as wastes degrade. Molecule-for-molecule, methane is about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere, and thus, it is the methane emissions from landfills that are scrutinized. For example, if emissions composed of 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide were changed to a mix that was 40% methane and 60% carbon dioxide, a 30% reduction in the landfill's global warming potential would result. A 10% methane, 90% carbon dioxide ratio will result in a 75% reduction in global warming potential compared to the baseline. Gas collection from a closed landfill can reduce emissions, and it is sometimes combined with a biocover, an engineered system where methane oxidizing bacteria living in a medium such as compost, convert landfill methane to carbon dioxide and water. Although methane oxidizing bacteria merely convert one greenhouse gas (methane) to another (carbon dioxide), this conversion can offer significant reductions in the overall greenhouse gas contribution, or global warming potential, associated with the landfill. What has not been addressed to date is the fact that methane can also escape from a landfill when the active cell is being filled with waste. Federal regulations require that newly deposited solid waste to be covered daily with a 6 in layer of soil or an alternative daily cover (ADC), such as a canvas tarp. The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of immobilizing methane oxidizing bacteria into a tarp-like matrix that could be used for alternative daily cover at open landfill cells to prevent methane emissions. A unique method of isolating methanotrophs from landfill cover soil was used to create a liquid culture of mixed methanotrophs. A variety of prospective immobilization techniques were used to affix the bacteria in a tarp-like matrix. Both gel encapsulation of methanotrophs and gels with liquid cores containing methanotrophs were readily made but prone to rapid desiccation. Bacterial adsorption onto foam padding, natural sponge, and geotextile was successful. The most important factor for success appeared to be water holding capacity. Prototype biotarps made with geotextiles plus adsorbed methane oxidizing bacteria were tested for their responses to temperature, intermittent starvation, and washing (to simulate rainfall). The prototypes were mesophilic, and methane oxidation activity remained strong after one cycle of starvation but then declined with repeated cycles. Many of the cells detached with vigorous washing, but at least 30% appeared resistant to sloughing. While laboratory landfill simulations showed that four-layer composite biotarps made with two different types of geotextile could remove up to 50% of influent methane introduced at a flux rate of 22 g m{sup -2} d{sup -1}, field experiments did not yield high activity levels. Tests revealed that there were high hour-to-hour flux variations in the field, which, together with frequent rainfall events, confounded the field testing. Overall, the findings suggest that a methanotroph embedded biotarp appears to be a feasible strategy to mitigate methane emission from landfill cells, although the performance of field-tested biotarps was not robust here. Tarps will likely be best suited for spring and summer use, although the methane oxidizer population may be able to shift and adapt to lower temperatures. The starvation cycling of the tarp may require the capacity for intermittent reinoculation of the cells, although it is also possible that a subpopulation will adapt to the cycling and become dominant. Rainfall is not expected to be a major factor, because a baseline biofilm will be present to repopulate the tarp. If strong performance can be achieved and documented, the biotarp concept could be extended to include interception of other compounds beyond methane, such as volatile aromatic hydrocarbons and chlorinated solvents.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: FC26-05NT42433
  • DOI: 10.2172/971176 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 971176
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc935545

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  • March 31, 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 1, 2016, 1:43 p.m.

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Hilger, Helene; Oliver, James; Bogner, Jean & Jones, David. Reducing Open Cell Landfill Methane Emissions with a Bioactive Alternative Daily, report, March 31, 2009; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc935545/: accessed September 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.