Sensing, Analyzing, and Forecasting Evaluation (SAFE) System for Bioreactor Landfills

Location: Minneapolis, MI

Principal Investigator: Dr. Milind V. Khire, P.E.
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation



During the past two decades, the majority of geotechnical and geoenvironmental research related to landfills using in-situ sensing systems and field methods has been focused on securing the boundaries of the landfills – caps and liners. The proposed research is about sensing the “heart” of landfills, which is the waste representing over 99% of the landfill. The proposed approach will use the data collected from sensors embedded in permeable blankets primarily used for routine leachate recirculation to continuously and in real-time model the changes in the hydraulic and thermal conductivities of waste. This is critical because hydraulic and thermal properties of the waste change as a result of settlement, decomposition, age, and other operational variables. Currently, we have only limited knowledge on the long-term behavior and risks associated with “megafills” operated as bioreactors. In addition, the proposed approach will be independently confirmed by doing controlled lab experiments using a lab-scale physical model of landfill followed by comprehensive numerical modeling and by conducting field tracer tests at an instrumented landfill site in Michigan.

This project addresses uses of sensors coupled with computer modeling to optimize long-term performance of municipal solid waste landfills operated as bioreactors in the 21st century. The proposed research involves the use of data sensed from a variety of sensors embedded in permeable blankets devised by the PI and primarily used for leachate recirculation in bioreactor landfills to evaluate changes in in-situ hydraulic and thermal conductivities of waste on a continuous and real-time basis. In addition, tracer tests at an instrumented landfill and controlled lab tests are proposed to independently verify the findings of the sensor data using computer models. This multiyear project would allow the research team to collect data from a bioreactor landfill in Michigan that has been comprehensively instrumented over the last few years. The educational activities integrated within this research plan involve active learning projects using a plexi-glass landfill model and introducing waste management for high-school and undergraduate students. Active ties of Michigan State University with local high schools and special programs for minority and female students from the mid Michigan area would allow us to achieve participation of minorities and female students.

Resulting Publications

  • Haydar, M., and Khire, M. (2005), “Leachate Recirculation Using Horizontal Trenches in Bioreactor Landfills” Journal of Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineers, Vo. 131, No. 7, 837-847.
  • Haydar, M., and Khire, M. (2004), “Numerical Evaluation of Heterogeneity and Anisotropy of Waste Properties on Leachate Recirculation in Bioreactor Landfills” The Journal of Solid Waste Management & Technology, Vol. 30, No. 4, 233- 243.
  • Haydar, M., and Khire, M. (2006), “Geotechnical Sensor System to Monitor Injected Liquids in Landfills” Geotechnical Testing Journal, American Society of Testing of Materials, o. 29, No. 1, in press.
  • Khire, M., and Haydar, M. (2004), “Leachate Recirculation in Bioreactor Landfills Using Geocomposite Drainage Material” Journal of Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineers, in review.