Ageing of HDPE Geomembranes Used to Contain Landfill Leachate or Hydrocarbon Spills
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The ageing of high density polyethylene geomembrane (GM) liners used to minimize advection and diffusion of contaminants in municipal solid waste landfill leachate and in hydrocarbon spills to the environment is examined. The evaluation of the ageing of GMs used in landfills involved four components. First, a laboratory-accelerated ageing investigation of a GM exposed to air, water and leachate at elevated temperatures. Service life of a GM (Stage I: Antioxidant depletion, Stage II: Induction, and Stage III: Polymer degradation) is examined. The results demonstrate the critical role of antioxidants in protecting against oxidative degradation. The service life of the GM is predicted. Second, a study was conducted to provide an estimate of Stage I for a GM in a composite liner. The results indicated that immersion tests are too severe and the service life is substantially greater for a GM in composite liner than implied by leachate immersion tests. Third, a comparison of ageing with three different “protection” layers between the GM and overlying gravel and leachate is reported. A slower antioxidant depletion rate is observed when geotextile-geosynthetic clay liner and geotextile-sand-geotextile are applied than with a typical geotextile alone. This could be partially attributed to the attenuation of leachate constituents by the protection layer as well as the buildup of antioxidant concentration on either side of GM thereby reducing the concentration gradient and outward diffusive flux of antioxidants. Fourth, diffusion modelling is used to evaluate the results from immersion and composite liner simulation tests. Diffusion modelling provided a means for predicting the performance of the GMs in conditions other than the typical test conditions. The evaluation of the ageing of GM used in barrier system for hydrocarbon involved two components. First, untreated and fluorinated GMs immersed in jet fuel were tested. Results show that antioxidants depleted at slower rate from fluorinated GM than untreated GM. This suggested a significant beneficial effect of fluorination. Antioxidant depletion time is predicted at field temperatures. Second, the time dependant change in GM samples used at jet fuel containment site constructed in 2001 is reported. The GM is shown to be performing very well.