Use of Evapotranspiration (ET) Landfill Covers to Reduce Methane Emissions from Municipal Solid Waste Landfills


Solid waste landfills need to have final covers to 1) reduce the infiltration of rainfall into the waste mass and 2) reduce surface greenhouse gas emissions. Most regulations require that such final covers include hydraulic barriers, such as compacted clays with or without geomembrane. Significant research has been undertaken to allow the use of evapotranspiration-based covers (often termed: Evapotranspiration (ET) Cover, Water Balance Covers, or Phyto Covers) as an alternative to the barrier concept covers. ET covers are designed so that they have the capacity to store water by the soil and also have plants or vegetation to remove the stored water. In ET covers, plant roots can enhance the aeration of soil by creating secondary macropores which improve the diffusion of oxygen into soil. Therefore, biological methane oxidation (a natural process in landfill soils) can be improved considerably by the soil structuring processes of vegetation, along with the increase of organic biomass in the soil associated with plant roots. This paper summarizes a study to investigate the capacity of an ET cover to reduce surface greenhouse gas emissions when implemented on a solid waste landfill. This study consisted of using a numerical model to estimate methane emission and oxidation through an ET cover under average climatic conditions in Bennignton, Nebraska, USA. Different simulations were performed using different methane loading flux (5 to 200 gm-2·d-1) as the bottom boundary. For all simulations, surface emissions were the lowest during the growing season and during warmer days of the year. Percent oxidation is the highest during the growing season and during warmer days. The lowest modeled surface emissions were always obtained during the growing season. Finally, correlations between percent oxidation and methane loading into simulated ET covers were proposed to estimate methane emissions and methane oxidation in ET covers.

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Abichou, T. , Kormi, T. , Wang, C. , Melaouhia, H. , Johnson, T. and Dwyer, S. (2015) Use of Evapotranspiration (ET) Landfill Covers to Reduce Methane Emissions from Municipal Solid Waste Landfills. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 7, 1087-1097. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2015.713089.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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