Coupled experimental assessment of physico-biochemical characteristics of municipal solid waste undergoing enhanced biodegradation

Xunchang Fei, D. Zekkos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Seven municipal solid waste (MSW) specimens with variable initial waste compositions were biodegraded in large (d = 300 mm, h = 600 mm) laboratory landfill simulators under leachate-recirculation-enhanced anaerobic biodegradation conditions to investigate changes in the biochemical and physical characteristics of solid waste, leachate and biogas during biodegradation. The evolution with time of the monitored characteristics of the three phases was presented and the characteristics empirically correlated. The impact of the initial composition of waste on the biodegradation process was quantified. Although removal of soluble compounds in leachate, and methane (CH) generation from waste was practically completed after around 300 days, changes in vertical strain, total unit weight and volumetric moisture content of waste continued in decreasing rates even after 1000 days. Methane generation potential (L) of the waste was correlated to the percentage of biodegradable waste prior to degradation expressed by parameter B. Maximum methane generation rate (r4,max) increased with increasing L and maximum soluble chemical oxygen demand in leachate. Final strain (or settlement) of waste due to anaerobic biodegradation (ϵ) increased with increasing Band L. The compression ratio was found to vary during the process, although it is commonly assumed to be constant. The maximum long-term compression ratio increased with increasing ϵ and r. The total unit weight at submerged and field capacity states and volumetric moisture content of waste were also dependent on the initial composition and compression (quantified by strain) of waste. The trends presented in this study contribute to the quantitative understanding of coupled processes during enhanced biodegradation of MSWof variable waste composition.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1031-1043
Number of pages13
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 18 2018

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was partially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Civil and Mechanical Systems under grant no. CMMI-1041566, Division of Computer and Communication Foundations under grant no. 1442773 and by fellowships from the Geosynthetic Institute (GI) and the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF). ConeTec Investigations Ltd and the ConeTec Education Foundation (ConeTec) are acknowledged for their support to the Geotechnical Engineering Laboratories at the University of Michigan. Any opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF, GI, EREF or ConeTec. The authors thank Jane Gregg, Renee Gering, Paro Sen and Mehul Kulkarni for their assistance in monitoring simulators and conducting measurements.


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