Durability of HDPE Geomembranes for Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Applications
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A series of laboratory accelerated immersion tests are used to examine the effects of different chemicals found in municipal solid waste leachate, geomembrane thickness, and incubation temperatures on the degradation of different high density polyethylene geomembranes. It was found that surfactant was the key leachate constituent affecting antioxidant depletion while salts accelerated degradation of the mechanical properties, especially stress crack resistance. Immersed in synthetic leachate, the time to nominal failure at 35oC was predicted to be 62% longer for the 2.5 mm, and 12% longer for the 2.0 mm, than for the 1.5 mm geomembrane tested. The antioxidant depletion in synthetic leachate and air at temperatures > 85oC was consistent with what would be expected from Arrhenius modeling based on data from lower temperatures (≤ 85oC). However, the early depletion rates in water incubation decreased with the increase of the temperature above 100oC. It was also found that at temperatures above 100oC, there was significant change in the polymer morphology that affected the stress crack resistance at early incubation times prior to polymer degradation. Large-scale geosynthetic liner longevity simulators (GLLSs) which simulated field conditions were used to investigate the susceptibility of pre-aged high density polyethylene geomembranes to stress cracking and to evaluate the performance of geomembranes under a 150 mm sand protection layer. A pre-aged geomembrane with a 560 g/m2 geotextile protection layer experienced brittle rupture at local gravel indentations. The time to failure was correlated to the incubation temperatures. The use of a sand protection layer not only delayed antioxidant depletion compared to that with a traditional geotextile protection but also substantially reduced the long-term tensile strains in the geomembrane below the allowable strain limits.