Modelling MSW Leachate Characteristics and Clogging
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A numerical model (BioClog) is developed to examine changes in key municipal solid waste (MSW) leachate characteristics and the porosity of porous media (clogging) as the leachate passes through the drainage layer of a leachate collection system (LCS). The model considers multiple-species reactive leachate transport through porous media. It simulates biofilm growth and loss, deposition of suspended particles, and precipitation of minerals on the surface of porous media. It is used to examine the long-term performance of both the granular porous media and nonwoven geotextiles in LCSs. Modelling of laboratory mesocosm cells filled with gravel usually used in landfills and permeated by landfill leachate shows encouraging agreement between the observed and measured effluent chemical oxygen demand (COD) and calcium concentrations as well as the gravel porosity within the saturated drainage layers. Studies of early generation LCSs involving finger (French) drain systems show that the finger drains are not effective at controlling leachate mounding within the landfill and the calculated leachate mound thicknesses agree well with observed field data. A numerical examination of the recent generation of LCSs, comprised of the granular drainage blanket and perforated drainage pipes, shows that an increase in grain size increases the service life and that increasing the spacing between collection pipes (i.e., the drainage path) decreases the service life of LCSs. Filter-separator layers between the waste and granular drainage layers are shown to increase the service life of LCSs. The modelling results indicate that the calculated clog mass within the saturated drainage layer is dominated by the inorganic material and the calculated service life of LCSs is dependent on the leachate strength examined. Finally, a new practical model for estimating the service life of LCSs is developed and calibrated against the data from the BioClog model. The simplified model could be used by the practicing engineers for estimating the service life and optimizing the design of LCSs in MSW landfills.