Management of Landfill Leachate Final Thesis

Management of Landfill Leachate Final Thesis
TAMK University of Applied Sciences
Degree Programme of Environmental Engineering
Li Rong
Final Thesis
Management of Landfill Leachate
Commissioned by
Tampere 6/2009
Senior Lecturer Eeva-Liisa Viskari
TAMK University of Applied Sciences
TAMK University of Applied Sciences
Degree Programme of Environmental Engineering
Li Rong
Management of Landfill leachate
June 2009
Thesis supervisor
Commissioned by
Senior Lecturer Eeva-Liisa Viskari
TAMK University of Applied Sciences
The aim of this work is to define the characteristic of landfill leachate and summarize
the present knowledge in management of landfill leachate. Selected parameters were
analyzed and compare to the result with landfill leachate composition, domestic
wastewater characteristics and other research data. This final thesis is belonging to the
landfill leachate project between Kunming Institute of Environmental Science in China
and TAMK University of Applied Sciences in Finland. The aim of project is through
the laboratory work and literature survey to discover and test innovative technology of
landfill leachate treatment, and how to design the constructed wetlands to improve the
treatment efficiency. In this final thesis the literature survey and some of laboratory
analyses were done from leachate as preparative activity to help continue of the work in
August 2009 in Finland.
Key words
Landfill, leachate, leachate treatment, CWs, TSS, landfill
This final thesis was made for TAMK University of Applied Sciences and the Kunming
Institute of Environmental Science Research during the spring of 2009. The thesis is
belonging to the project names: Landfill of leachate treatment using different
technologies. For the planning, the project will start on April of 2009. I written some of
basic information for the management of landfill leachate and also prepared data from
the experiment analysis to help the continue work.
I realized that the characteristics of landfill leachate are complex, but the leachate
through the biological, chemical and physical processes will be treating a lot. I learned
how to analyze the total suspended solid by design experiment and how to using the
HACH Spectrophotometer to measure different chemical composition in leachate
from the laboratory work.
I would like to thank my supervisor, Eeva-Liisa Viskari for her valuable guidance and
help throughout my final thesis. Specially, I want to thanks for my husband, Shang Nan
helps me to lend the related books about my thesis topic from his university library and
also gave me lots of supports and encouragement.
And also, I would like to thank my roommate, Li Yanan and my parents for kindly give
me a peace environment to finish my thesis.
Tampere, June 2009
Li Rong
Table of contents
1. Introduction… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … 7
2. Landfill leachate… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .… … … … … 8
2.1 Definition of leachate… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ...… … .8
2.2 The generation of landfill leachate… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .… … ...9
2.2.1 External water … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ...… 9
2.2.2 Within the waste generated leachate… … … … … … … … … … … … … ...… .10
2.3 The factor of influence for water quality of leachate… … … … … … … … … … .10
2.3.1Composition of waste … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… 11
2.3.2 The effect of landfill age on leachate..........................................................11
2.3.3 Method of land-filling for water quality of leachate… … … … … … … … ...12
2.4 Composition of landfill leachate… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … 12
2.5 Characteristic of landfill leachate… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ...… 14
2.5.1 Color and smell… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … 14
2.5.2 pH… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … 14
2.5.3 BOD… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .15
2.5.4 COD… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .15
2.5.5 TOC… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .15
2.5.6 TDS (total dissolved solids)… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … 15
2.5.7 Suspended solids.........................................................................................16
2.5.8 Salts… … … … … … … … ..… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ...16
2.5.9 N, P… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .… … 16
2.5.10 Heavy metals… … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… … … … … … … ..… .… 17
2.5.12 Variation in leachate quality… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .17
3. Design of landfill for leachate control… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… .18
3.1 General landfill design… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… .18
3.2 Key of landfill design … … … … … … … … … … … ..… … … … … … … … … ......20
3.2.1 Pretreatment of Solid waste… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .20
3.2.2 Cover system… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… … .20
3.2.3 Bottom liners system… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… .… 22
4. Treatment methods of the landfill leachate… … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..23
4.1 Biological and physical or chemical leachate treatments… … … … … … … ..… 23
4.2 Natural treatment system - constructed wetlands… … … … … … … … … ..… … 25
5. Laboratory analyses… … … ..… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … 28
5.1Leachate sampling… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… … .28
5.2 Sample pretreatment and preservation… … … … … … … … … … … … … … ...… 29
5.3 Determination of total suspended solids… … … … … … … … … … .… … … ..… .29
5.3.1 Materials for TSS experiment… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .30
5.3.2 Procedure for TSS experiment… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… .30
5.3.3 Result and calculation… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .31
5.4 HACH Spectrophotometer measurement for chemical composition… … … … .32
5.4.1 Materials for HACH measurement… … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… ...32
5.4.2 Result of measurement… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… .33
5.5 pH and conductivity of measurement and result… … … … … … … … … ..… … .35
6. Discussion of experiment result… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … 35
7. Conclusion… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … ..… 39
References… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … .… .40
List of symbols
NH 3 -N
ammonia nitrogen
NH 4 -N
ammonium nitrogen
NO 3 -N
nitrate nitrogen
suspended solids
total suspended solids
total dissolved solids
chemical oxygen demand
total organic carbon
Biochemical oxygen Demand
Cr 6+
PO 4
SO 4
Tarastenjärvi waste treatment plant
municipal wastewater treatment plants
constructed wetlands
surface flow constructed wetlands
subsurface flow constructed wetlands
1. Introduction
The population growths followed by the urban development have increased fast, so
the domestic solid wastes are produced and needs to be managed more frequently. The
land filling has been to the main method of the waste management. The current
landfill technology is primarily determined by the need to prevent and control
leachate problem. (10) The management of landfill leachate has become to one of
main focus for the environment management of landfill. The leachate normally
generated by the rainfall and surface water flow into the landfill, through a period
time, they change to the high concentrated wastewater on the bottom of the landfill.
Actually, the leachate is a potential threat for the quality of groundwater. The landfill
leachates contain complex compositions, such as High concentration of ammonia
nitrogen and salt, the suspended solids, N, P and heavy metals, which are belong to
the water quality characteristic of leachate also. Various factors could bring the
difficult problems for management of landfill leachate. (25)
The method of landfill design consists of several parts related to the control of landfill
leachate. However, the special landfill design for leachate control could be divided
into three important keys: Pretreatment of landfill solids before the filling into the
landfill. Cover system include the daily cover, intermediate cover and final cover.
Bottom liners systems include the clay liner, plastic liner, composite liner and leachate
collection system. Mass of the leachate treatment methods should through the
biological process, physical process or chemical process. In order to saving the
management cost, the landfill design could connect with the treatment methods for
leachate, such as the nature treatment system – constructed wetland, which through
the biological and chemical process to reduce the concentration of leachate. (8)
The aim of this work was to survey the present methods of landfill leachate
management and find out basic information about the quality and characteristics of
landfill leachate. This was done by literature survey about landfill design, leachate
management and quality. It also included basic laboratory analyses about landfill
leachate collected from a closed landfill site of Tarastenjärvi waste treatment plant
(TWTP) in Tampere region in Finland. The target of the testing was through the basic
laboratory experiment to analyze and realize the characteristic of leachates. In the
laboratory analyses total suspended solids (TSS), pH and conductivity of leachate
were analysed. Also the chemical composition of leachate sample using by HACH
such as sulfate, phosphate, nitrate, iron and chromium were determined.
Landfill leachate
The general forms of waste treatment include landfill, incineration, refuse composting
and pyrogenation. The landfill is an important and basic part for waste treatment in a
majority of cities at present.
The problem with landfills is the landfill leachate pollution. Furthermore, the landfill
leachate problem is a long term issue, since the landfill leachate is formed long time
after closing the site. From the start till the end there should be effective control and
management for the production of leachate.
2.1 Definition of leachate
Leachate means any liquid percolation through the deposited waste and emitted from
or contained within a landfill. (1) The leachate consists of many different organic and
inorganic compounds that may be either dissolved or suspended. (2) They will bring
potential pollution issues for groundwater and surface waters in nature. The landfill
leachate is a secondary contamination related to landfills. At present, leachates from
most of landfills were treated by municipal wastewater in municipal wastewater
treatment plants (MWTPs).
2.2 The generation of landfill leachate
The landfill leachate could be produced by two main causes. External water enters the
waste and within the waste generated leachate.
2.2.1 External water
A. Most of leachate is generated by direct water is rainwater and snowmelt in to the
waste. These liquid should spend many years infiltrate through the landfill, during this
time, they will contact with various substances such as paints, plastic, oil etc. inside
the landfill. The water leaches and dissolves various constituents until it contains a
load of heavy metals, chlorinated organic compounds and other substances. (3)
Finally, they become to the polluted liquid names leachate that can harm nearby
surface-water and groundwater. The leachate water quality became serious after mass
of rainwater washed landfill. Intension, quantity, frequency and duration of rainfall
relate to quantity of leachate production. Otherwise, the humid climate has a strong
influence for the generation of leachate. (2)
B. The surface-water and groundwater into the waste by inflow or infiltration. The
surface-water depends on type of site, if the landfill building under a sloping field,
which has surface-water, its will drop down into the landfill from the direction of
topography. Otherwise, the groundwater is possible to infiltrate into the waste if the
bottom of landfill under the water table. The quantity of leachate is based on interface
situation (tangent time, tangent position and flowing direction) between groundwater
and waste. (27)
2.2.2 Within the waste generated leachate
A. Quality of wastes. The wet waste contains excess moisture which consists of own
moisture and the adsorbed moisture (from atmosphere or rainwater). The biological,
physical and chemical processes take place there by the wet waste through
compaction and organic decomposition in landfill. If this waste has a moisture
holding capacity of 15% by weight (or 0.25m3/metric ton [60 gal per ton]), a total of
68 m3/day (18,000 gal/day) of moisture can be absorbed. (5) The waste moisture was
produced by the waste during waste placement; such as solid waste without treatment
into the landfill will produce leachate that is a main source.
B. some of organic components inside the waste, which is through the anaerobic
decay becomes heavy polluted liquid within the landfill. The total liquid of production
relate to component of waste, ph, temperature and type of bacteria.
The generation of leachate also depends on other factors:
Quality of wastes and its crumbling;
Techniques of land-filling and degree of waste compaction;
Age of landfill;
Precipitation, humidity (6)
2.3 The factor of influence for water quality of leachate
The composition of landfill leachate is complexity, high concentration of pollutants
and variation. The water quality and water quantity of leachate relate to main factors:
composition of solid waste, local climate, age of landfill and method of land-filling,
Due to many of factors connect with the different site of landfills and the different
time of landfills, and factors brought the numerous variation of leachate water quality
and quantity. (10)
2.3.1 Composition of waste
The composition of waste for landfill leachate water quality has large influence.
Within the landfill leachate contains CODCr
BOD5 are producing from the organic
matter of domestic biological waste are mostly. The content of domestic biological
waste, which is high or low within waste could direct influence the concentration of
BOD5. Otherwise, the remains of dust and soil are provide with the function
of adsorption and filtration for organic matter by chemical processes within leachate,
therefore, the contents of dust and soil within waste could influence the concentration
of leachate also. (25)
2.3.2 The effect of landfill age on leachate
The waste treatment in landfills is a process of circulation:
land-filling, coverage
and press. The different sites of landfills stay with the different stages. Leachate can
be divided into different types according to the age of landfill: the leachate of young
landfill (above 3-5 years), the leachate of medium and old landfill (over 5 years).
Table 1 shows a result about the typical concentration of leachate in relation to the age
of landfill. Almost all the concentrations reduced with increasing age of the landfill;
except NH3-N is more abundant in the leachates of young landfills where active
decomposition of organic material in the waste is taking place. (12)
Table 2.1 Variation with age in the typical concentrations of common factors of
landfill leachates (12)
Age of landfill
2.3.3 Method of land-filling for water quality of leachate
The different land-filling technology affects the quality and quantity of leachate.
Flood-control system at the landfill that is useful to assist surface-water discharge. In
addition using the yellow-clay lay on the bottom of landfill to control the flowing
surface-water and groundwater into the landfill is preferable, so the concentration of
organic matter within the leachate is higher than normal wastewater. If the landfill
bottom using the normal clay to prevent leachate infiltrate into the groundwater or the
surface-water control is not successful, these situations is probably to reduce the
concentration of leachate, but water quantity of leachate will increase quick and more.
2.4 Composition of landfill leachate
Leachate consists of water, organic, inorganic and bacterial compounds together with
solid. Definition of all the compositions in leachate is difficult, complex, expensive
and time-consuming. The compositions of leachate can be divided into four parts of
pollutants. Organic matter such as: COD (chemical oxygen demand) and TOC (total
organic carbon); specific organic compounds, inorganic compounds and heavy metals.
(10) However, the organic content of leachates is often measured through analyzing
sum of parameters such as COD, BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) and TOC and
dissolved organic carbon. Typical ranges of the concentration of selected parameters
in leachate are shown in following Table 2. (11)
Table 2.2 Chemical composition of landfill leachate- concentration ranges (mg/L).
PH (no units)
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD)
Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN)
Sulphate (SO4)
Phosphate (PO4)
Range (mg/l)
3.7- 9
400- 2,000
0- 42,300
150- 6,000
0- 4,000
1- 100
5- 100
<1- 0.5
<1- 300
1- 10
<0.01- 2
0.01- 0.04
0.1- 2
0.5- 10
<1- 15
100- 1,000
20- 2,500
0.1- 0.08
<0.008- 10
<0.01- 0.5
5- 50
0.2- 5,500
0- 5
16.5- 15,600
0.06- 1,400
0.4- 3
3- 3,800
0.004- 0.004
0- 7,700
0- 1,350
2.5 Characteristic of landfill leachate
The leachate is highly polluted wastewater. The solution has many different physical,
chemical and biological characteristics. Currently, the change range of pH is 4~9,
the range of COD is 2000~62000mg/l and BOD5 is 60~45000mg/l. Especially in the
initial process of landfills, the CODCr might be up to 90000mg/l in the leachate. (13)
In the following I will introduce some of normal characteristics of leachate.
2.5.1 Color and smell
The color of leachate is orange-brown or dark-brown; the chroma is around 2000,
sometimes can up to 4000. Associated with the leachate is a malodorous smell, due
mainly to the presence of organic acids, (14) which come from the high concentration
of organic matter was decomposed. Such as dark color and malodor will disappear
slowly or change to light, which is relate to the increasing age of landfills, otherwise,
these change should connect to the nature of precipitation and the quantity or quality
of industry waste.
2.5.2 pH
The pH of initial landfills is 6~7, which is present weak acidity. Along with time was
passed that the pH can up to 7~8, which is present weak alkaline. The pH will tent to
alkaline according to the increasing age of landfills, similarly, these change also
connect to the nature of precipitation and the quantity or quality of industry waste.
2.5.3 BOD
The activity of microorganism was increased by time was processed, such as the BOD
was increased also in the leachate. The BOD will up to the maximum value when the
normal Land-filling is processing from 6 months to 2.5 years. The BOD becomes very
deliquescent, which is a main characteristic. Finally, the BOD index start to reduce
until the landfill is steady should through 6~15 years. (28)
2.5.4 COD
Effluent COD values are 200~300mg/l, down from 300~500mg/l. (15) The CODcr is
lower in the initial stages of landfills (normal could reach to over ten thousand). The
reduction of COD is slow and the decrease of BOD is fast by time was processed. The
reduction of BOD5 or CODcr leads to the biochemical treatability is reducing. (15)
2.5.5 TOC
The concentration of TOC is 265~2800mg/l normally. The BOD / TOC could reflect
the oxidation of organic carbon in leachate. The value of BOD /TOC is high in the
initial stages of landfills. The landfill is steady along with the process of time, so the
oxidation of organic carbon in leachate brings the value of BOD /TOC is reduced.
2.5.6 TDS (total dissolved solids)
The change of TDS relate to the age of landfills in leachate. In the initial stages of
landfills contain the concentration of total soluble salt (TSS) is up to 10000mg/l, and
also contain the sodium, calcium, chloride, sulphate and iron. Afterwards, the
concentration of inorganic matter will reduce when the age of landfill through 6~24
months up to the maximum value.
2.5.7 Suspended solids
The suspended solid means solid matter in the leachate, and they consist of organic
matter, inorganic matter, clay and microorganism etc. Effluent values are typically
3~10 mg/l, down from 9~80. (15) Leachate from landfills normally contains only
small amounts of suspended solids, however, if landfills are occur an unwonted
situation, and then the suspended solid will change to more. Fortunately, the treatment
method of suspended solid is easier than other components in leachate treatment.
2.5.8 Salts
The high concentration of salt in the leachate mostly is chloride (100~4000mg/l) and
phosphate (9~1600mg/l), which are more serious when the rainfall is less in that zone.
The leachate should through the process of desalination treatment before the leachate
need to reuse. (15)
2.5.9 N, P
The N and P are main components within the inorganic pollutant from the leachate.
The concentration of N and P is high when the landfill in the processing. However,
when is landfill is closed, the P is reduced slowly, but the N will rise step by step,
because the decomposition of waste is a slow process under the anaerobic conditions,
the waste will continue to decompose when the landfill is closed. The leachates
contain the high concentration of N and P, which is due to their increase, these
situations will continue some of years. Therefore, the leachate including the high
concentration of N and P after landfill closed is more difficult treatment than the
laechate in the processing of landfill. (15)
The main component of ammonia nitrogen is contains ammonia, which is normally
contains around 0.4g/l and sometimes up to the 1.7g/l, the content of organic nitrogen
is about 1/10 of total nitrogen. The concentration of ammonia nitrogen is increased
according to the increase of filling time. The nitrogen is around 40%~50% of total
ammonia nitrogen in the leachate, and the nitrogen mostly exists by the form of
ammonia nitrogen. The high concentration of ammonia nitrogen brings unbalance of
scale for the nutrition elements of microorganism. (28)
2.5.10 Heavy metals
The high content of heavy metals because of the domestic waste was filled together
with the industrial waste or sludge in landfill, except the individual land-filling. The
amount of heavy metals is related to the industrial level of local urban and how much
industrial waste will be land-filling. The domestic waste only contains heavy metal is
low. If the any waste adopt the mode of mix-filling in landfill, and then the industrial
waste is account for most part, which is main source for the content of heavy metals.
The normal heavy metals ionic consist of Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd, Hg etc. (28)
2.5.11 Variation in leachate quality
The time of land-filling is a main factor for water quality of leachate. The BOD/COD
is 0.4~0.75 within leachate. The waste is stable day by day according to the time of
land-filling is increased, at the same time, the concentration of organic matter will
reduce within landfill leachate, the value of BOD/COD is possible under 0.1. This
result is indicates the efficiency by using the biological method treat landfill leachate
according to the increase of land-filling time will change to low, and the latter process
of treatment change to more difficult. The water quality of leachate is very variable,
so the technology of treatment system should be developed strongly.
Design of landfill for leachate control
The level of landfill design has enhanced is based on technology, economy and
society develop in recent year. A major landfill design and operation should consider a
number of conditions in beginning of the project, actually, most of conditions related
to the leachate control and treatment. The designs are different between industrial and
municipal landfills.
3.1 General landfill design
The general landfill design includes the following requirements: site preparation,
buildings, monitoring well, size, liners, leachate collection system, final protective
cover, and gas collection system. The landfill divide into two kinds of form in city:
waste landfill and sanitary landfill. The sanitary landfill could beautify urban
environment, but they don’t have material difference. Following table 3.1 will
introduce an example, what kind of factor could be contented requirement when they
need to build a sanitary landfill. (4)
Table 3.1 Design of sanitary landfill (4)
Solid waste
Filling area
Realize current and future solid waste generation rate and chemical
Complete the survey of site
- Prepare the base maps of current conditions on and near site:
ground contours, surface waters, wetlands, roads, structures and
other land use.
- Develop soil textural information: soil type, depth, texture,
structure, size, density, permeability, moisture content, profile, pH
- Develop hydrological data: groundwater depth, quality, seasonal
change, direction of flow, rate of flow, current and future uses
- Identify and characterize soil cover: texture, permeability and
- Identify regulation: state, local design standards, local permit
requirements, building codes
Select landfill method based on site, soil, bedrocks, groundwater
- Design elements: width, depth, length. Liner thickness, base
construction and leachate collection, interim and final covers
- Operational features: type of soil cover, method of cover
application, need for imported cover, equipment requirement,
personnel requirements
Develop initial site plan of fill area and landfill contour plan
- Compute solid waste storage volume, soil requirement volume, and
site life
- Develop site plan showing: normal fill areas, special working
areas, control systems for leachate, gas, surface water, access road,
Waste filling
structures, lighting, monitoring wells, landscaping
- Prepare ultimate land use plan
- Prepare cost assessment and design report
- Prepare environmental impact assessment
- Submit application and obtain required permit
- Prepare operator’
s manual
- Prepare plans for closure and post closure care
3.2 Key of landfill design
According to the description of design factors to analyses what kind of conditions is a
key for prevent and control the production of leachate?
3.2.1 Pretreatment of Solid waste
The quantity and quality of solid waste relate to production quantity of leachate. The
generation of leachate part has already explained the reason. The economic statistic of
solid waste output was set up in a department to record and statistic the generation
rate current. If mass of solid wastes will produce in the future, they should complete
planning carefully, so the background of data is a first factor for beginning of the
landfill design. The chemical composition connects with the pretreatment of solid
waste, which is helpful for the leachate control. A good pretreatment will reduce the
chemical composition before the solid waste filling into the landfill. (4)
3.2.2 Cover system
The landfill cover system is a key part for landfill design. Its main aim is to isolate
within the landfill from the infiltration of water and also to prevent the generation of
leachate. The cover should have lower-permeability than the bottom liner to prevent
surface water flow into the landfill. The cover system could be designed to help the
growth of plants in order to protect the landfill in the future. Three types of covers are
used in the landfill.
Daily Cover is a layer of soil, which is cover on the top of landfill after the everyday
working end. The sandy soil is normal, but other cover materials also could be used,
such as wood, clay, sand and chemical foams. Daily cover thickness can be 0.6
meters, so the truck can drive over the landfill easier. Daily cover should remain also
during precipitation that falls on the landfill. The function of daily cover prevents the
animals eating or taking the waste to other place and spread diseases and also reduces
the chance of fire and bad smell.
Intermediate cover will not be covered for long time. If the landfill working should
stop a period of time, the landfill must be covered using more soil than in daily cover
in order to reduce the amount of rainfall infiltration into the waste. The intermediate
cover is also could lead to the water run off to the surrounding area of landfill. The
thickness of the intermediate cover is about 1.2 meters. Some of landfills will plant
the vegetation on the top intermediate cover as protection when the filling work
should stops long-term, and also could remove the vegetation if the landfill should
work again.
Final cover for landfill can be form 0.6 to 2 meters thick. When the landfill reaches
the maximum capacity, which is must be covered with low-permeability or man-made
chemical material. Connect with the drainage layer to take the moisture away from the
landfill. The final cover is promoting the runoff of rainwater and prevents infiltration
step by step, and also preventing the leachate production. The vegetative layer is
planted on the top of final cover, and this layer not only prevents erosion but also
promotes runoff and evaporation. The soil and plant types will influence final effect.
3.2.3 Bottom liners system
Figure 3.1 Detail of a bottom-liner system (16)
The bottom liner system is a most important part of landfill design. Figure 1 shows a
detail of bottom liner system in the landfill. The liner usually has three types of: clay,
plastic and composite.
The clay liner may be problematic. The natural clay tends to crack when it dries.
However, the clay should be reworked and compacted to make it watertight which is a
good liner for landfill, as shown in figure 3.1. Figure shows the geosynthetic clay
liner always between the primary leachate collection system and secondary leachate
collection system. The plastic liner is called geomembrane, such as high-density
polyethylene (HDPE). The plastic liner can use alone or together with the clay liner to
prevent the inflowing water in the short time, and they could be damaged easily by
heavy equipment. The figure 1 shows the primary and secondary HDPE was used
always under the leachate collection system. The composite liner is a single liner
made of two parts: a plastic liner and compacted soil, such as clay soil normally. The
figure 1 shows the geocomposite drainage layer above the leachate collection system
to prevent and control the liquid infiltration. (16)
The most important part of bottom liner system is leachate collection system, which
is located between the plastic liner and composite liner and that is impermeable layer.
The bottom of the landfill is sloped. The leachate collection system is using the pipe
place along the bottom to collect the wastewater and leachate within the landfill.
These pipes lead the leachate and wastewater sends to the local wastewater treatment
plant. Possibly, the leachate after treatment could back into the landfill to enhance
decomposition. (16)
4. Treatment methods of the landfill leachate
The methods of leachate treatment can be divided into biological, physical and
chemical methods. Usually, two kinds of methods should be combined to deal with
leachate. Otherwise, the natural treatment systems connect with the landfill design is
not only saving the cost, but also enhances the efficiency of treatment. For example
constructed wetland is very useful. This chapter will introduce some different
methods to in leachate treatment technology.
4.1 Biological, physical or chemical leachate treatment
The biological treatment divides into aerobic process and anaerobic process. The
advantage of anaerobic process is that these allow heavy metals to be removed from
the leachate by precipitation as carbonates. (17) The anaerobic treatment system
includes the complex organic compounds that are transferred to CH4 and CO2, and
also produces excess sludge that does not need so much management. The energy
consumption of anaerobic process is lower than aerobic process. However, the high
NH4+-N concentration within the leachate is often not completely reduced through the
anaerobic process. (17)
The aerobic process is very useful if the leachate contains fatty acids of
biodegradation. Microorganisms under in aerobic conditions keep up the biological
activity of the process. Especially, when the leachate contains the high concentration
of organic matters, the oxygen is necessary. The organic load of leachate according to
the time was changed, so the system could control the supply of oxygen quantity. The
aerobic processes could remove NH4+ efficiently and that processes can be carried out
over a wide range of temperatures. Also, many substances are degraded at a higher
rate in the aerobic process than in the anaerobic process.
The leachate still contains many of pollutants after biodegradation, such as heavy
metals and some of persistent organic compounds. These compounds must go through
the physical and chemical processes. The efficiency of the biological treatment
method is connected with the stabilization of landfill. The aerobic process or
anaerobic process should be processed together with physical pretreatment, which
could improve the efficiency of the treatment.
The aim of physical and chemical treatment is ton remove heavy metal ions and
NH3-N (ammoniac nitrogen), although the physical and chemical treatment couldn’t
completely replace the biological treatment. Methods like adsorption, oxidation and
ammonia stripping etc. belong to the physical and chemical treatment and, they could
be a pretreatment to help the biological treatment process. That is also an effective
method to help the leachate treatment to meet the standard and then is disposed. In
order to achieve the best result the leachate treatment should be a combination of
different technologies.
If the leachate contains high concentration of NH4+-N and COD, the leachate needs to
be treaded by combined biological, physical or chemical treatment. The concentration
of ammonium ion through the nitrification process could be reduced. In methanogenic
leachates, the main part of the organic matter is refractory, so that a physical or
chemical treatment method is needed to achieve acceptable level of COD removal.
4.2 Natural treatment system - constructed wetlands (CW)
Actually, the leachate treatment technology of constructed wetland is normally
applied in both developed and developing country. The constructed wetlands are an
innovative treatment technology for leachate. The wetland consists of water, soil and
wetland plants. They are dividing into natural wetlands and constructed wetland. The
advantages of constructed wetlands are low costs, simple operation technology and
maintenance in landfill leachate treatment, and they also could reduce human health
or environment hazard risk. The idea of CW system bring some of new environment
conceptions to human when they develop treatment technology, such as saving
sources, respect nature environment.
The constructed wetlands could provide a nature treatment system to reduced the
pollutant concentrations and total leachate volume through the biological and
chemical processes, at the same time, they could remove or reduce some of major
components from the landfill leachate including BOD, NH4+, P, K, Ca2+ and selected
metals. (7, 8)
Usually, the basic principle for the design of constructed wetland is to plant some of
wetland plants, such as reed and willow are useful and they belong to the typical
wetland plants. The water quality of wastewater can be cleaned by filtration through
sandstone or soil, and within the root zone of plants has mass of microorganisms
using their various functions to break or absorb components. The wastewater
treatment system of CW in consists of wetland plants, control wastewater pipeline and
valve, the prevent infiltration system to control the wastewater harm to groundwater.
At present, the treatment technology of CW is mainly dividing to two types: the
surface flow constructed wetlands (SFCW) and subsurface flow constructed wetlands
(SSFCW). The type of SFCW is let the sewage directly flow into the wetland, and
then discharge after them remain within the wetland some days. This is a low cost
treatment method, but the problem is that sewage is directly exposed with the
atmosphere. This situation will lead to the pollutants directly diffused through the air
and thus they could produce the secondary pollution. The sewage is easily freeze will
influence the efficiency of treatment in some of cold areas, such as Scandinavian
countries. The type of SSFCW is using the pipeline leading the sewage from the
landfill to the wetland and then the processes take place on the bottom of water bed,
which is planted wetland plants. The method of SSFCW treat with sewage is highly
efficient, without malodors. This method could be used in the cold areas. The wetland
plants absorb and accumulate the pollutants in the leachate. The quality and density of
wetland plants is related to the treatment efficiency. The reed is a good wetland plants
for SFCW and SSFCW.
The wetlands system is based on biological and chemical reaction to remove the
contaminants from leachate. These reactions take place within or around the plant root
zone, which is also named beds (e.g. reed beds system).
These plant functions are
beneficial for the efficient treatment of landfill leachate because they provide the
oxygen for breakdown of organic compounds and NH4+ and might offset plugging by
large metal loads in leachate. (8)
Figure 4.1 Contaminant removal processes in a constructed wetland. (9)
The figure 4.1 presents the contaminant removal processes of landfill leachate in
SFCW. The leachate through the pipeline flows into the constructed wetland, and the
wetland plants could transfer oxygen to the root zone.
The removal efficiency of CWs system treating leachate pollutants is good for total
suspended solids (TSS), total dissolved solids (TDS), chemical oxygen demand
(COD), total organic carbon (TOC) and heavy metals etc. The influent landfill
leachate through the CWs system, the pH is change to balance. The table 4.1 presents
the removal efficiency of CW in one experiment.
Table 4.1 Removal efficiency of free water surface constructed wetlands treating
landfill leachate (20.)
Percent removal (%)
5. Laboratory analyses
The laboratory experiments through the measurement of landfill leachate provided the
basic information about leachate quality.
The processes of experiments were done
according to the suggestion of supervisor. The analyses included total suspended
solids (TSS), the pH and conductivity. Using the HACH Spectrophotometer sulphate,
phosphate, nitrate, iron and chromium were measured.
5.1 Leachate sampling
The Leachates were sampled from Tarastenjärvi waste treatment plant (TWTP) in the
Tampere region (Finland). The plant belongs to the Pirkanmaan Jätehuolto Oy, which
is owned by 23 municipalities in Tampere area and it is serving about 376 000
inhabitants. They accepted commercial and household waste. The old landfill sites
was in operation from 1977 until 2007, and it were they were closed three years ago.
The figure 5.1 shows the landfill leachate evaporation pond. The bottom of leachate
evaporation pond is rock to prevent the leachate infiltration to pollute the
groundwater. The natural evaporation is used to reduce the quantity of leachate. The
leachate from the old landfill, which is evaporated around 40% from the original
quantity within some years. Around the pond there is a lot of biowaste being
decomposed with the residual wood, and also some of plants grew in the surrounding
The sampling equipment included a canister (20L), gloves and sampling rod (5 meters
when it was extended) from the TAMK laboratory. The surface area of leachate
evaporation pond is over 200 m2, but the depth is between 1 to 10 meters. The sample
was taken from the leachate pond using by the sampling rod. The sample size was
about 5 liters. The temperature during sampling was 10 degrees centigrade. The less
rainfall quantity in the spring of Tampere could enhance the efficiency of leachate
evaporation process. Below the figure 5.1 shows the location for the sampling.
Figure 5.1 Sampling locations in Tarastenjärvi Landfill
5.2 Sample pretreatment and preservation
The sample was cleaned from unwanted substances such as leaves, sticks, animal
feather, which were excluded from the sample. If the unwanted substance was
included within the sample, the determination of final result will be influenced. The
sample through the pretreatment and then put them into the refrigeration to preserve
by several days, the process of analysis should begin as soon as possible.
5.3 Determination of total suspended solids
Total suspended solids (TSS) indicate the turbidity of the water. Suspended solids
cause the water to be milky or muddy looking due to the light scattering from very
small particles in the water. Sometimes it is mixed with color, but colored waters can
also be clear. Polluted waters are commonly turbid and improvement is usually
marked by greater clarity.
5.3.1 Materials for TSS experiment
Three Whatman's glass microfiber filters grade GF/A, circles 110mm
Glass beaker 1000ml
Three glass dishes
vacuum flask 1000ml and vacuum tubing
graduate cylinder 250ml
glass filter holder (funnel) with rubber adapter
Drying oven for operation at 103-105°C
Glass Desiccators
Analytical balance, capable of weighing to 0.01g
Raw leachate sample and distilled water
5.3.2 Procedure for TSS experiment
Glass fiber filter GF/A was weighed. The sample was a vacuum filtrated through the
filter and dried in 105°C for 1-2 hours and weighed again after cooling in a desiccator.
Figure 5.2 The installation of vacuum filtration
5.3.3 Result and calculation
The original color of the leachate is dark brown and after the process of filtration, the
color of leachate sample is clear brown. Base on the data shows on the bench sheet to
calculation the result for how much total suspended solids in the leachate sample. The
unit is mg/l (Table 5.3.1).
Table 5.3.1 The result of filter samples
Filter sample number
sample 1
sample 2
sample 3
Volume filtered (ml)
Filtered weight (mg)
Initial weight (mg)
Net weight (mg)
TSS content (mg/l)
Average TSS content (mg/l)
Caculation method:
Sample1 =
( A1 − B1 ) * 1000 = (576.1 − 510.1)mg *1000 = 220mg / l
Sample 2 =
( A2 − B2 ) *1000 = (546.5 − 512.5)mg *1000 = 226.7 mg / l
Sample3 =
( A3 − B3 ) *1000 = (539.8 − 508.2)mg * 1000 = 225.7 mg / l
Average =
300 *10 −3 l
150 *10 −3 l
140 *10 −3 l
(220 + 226.7 + 225.7 )mg / l
= 224 .1mg / l
5.4 HACH Spectrophotometer measurement for chemical composition
Heavy metals - Iron (Ferro) and chromium and nutrient salts like phosphorus, nitrate
and sulfate were also measured using HACH spectrophotometer.
The leachate sample was filtrated into the 1000ml vacuum flask through the TSS
experiment. The filtrate was used for analysis. The samples were diluted when
5.4.1 Materials for HACH measurement
HACH Spectrophotometer DR2010 (figure)
Two groups of sample cells (10ml and 25ml)
Reagents (five types)
25ml pipette with the calibration mark
250ml graduated-volumetric flask with the calibration mark
Two 500ml beakers
Suction bulb for safe pipette
Three 5ml plastic pipettes
Glass stirring rod
Filtrated leachate sample and distilled water
Figure 5.4.1 The HACH Spectrophotometer DR2010.
5.4.2 Result of measurement
(a.) Iron, total (0 to 3.00mg/L Fe)
The size of sample cell is 10ml and each measurement needs to wait three minutes.
1:10 diluted leachate samples were tested two times. The color of sample change to
light orange after the Ferro Ver Reagent Powder Pillow was added. The first result is
1.48mg/L Fe and the second result is 1.44mg/L Fe. The range of result is from 0 to
3.00mg/L Fe, so the result of two times is allowed. The average result is 1.46mg/L Fe,
which means the content of total iron is 1.46mg in the 1L leachate sample.
(b.)Phosphorus, reactive (0 to 2.50mg/L PO 4 )
The size of sample cell is 10ml and each measurement needs to wait two minutes. The
samples were diluted 1:100. The color of sample change to light purple after the Phos
Ver 3 Phosphate Powder Pillow was added. The power pillow is hardly dissolved in
the sample. The first result is 0.68mg/L PO 4 PV and the second result is 0.54mg/L
PO 4 PV. The range of result is from 0 to 2.50mg/L PO 4 PV so the result of two times
is allowed. The average result is 0.61mg/L PO 4 PV, which means the PO 4 has
0.61mg in the 1L leachate sample.
(c.) Chromium, hexavalent (0 to 0.6mg/L Cr 6+ )
The size of sample cell is 10ml and each measurement needs to wait one minute.
Samples were diluted 1:10 and the raw filtered leachate sample was tested four times.
No color change in the sample after the Chroma Ver 3 Reagent Powder Pillow was
added. The first result is 0 mg/L Cr 6+ and the second result is 0mg/L Cr 6+ from the
1:10 sample. The third result is -0.06mg/L and the fourth result is -0.03mg/L from the
raw sample. The range of result is from 0 to 0.6mg/L Cr 6+ , so the result of four times
is un-allowed, which means the leachate sample without the Cr 6+ .
(d.) Nitrate, HR (0 to 30.0mg/L NO 3 -N HR)
The size of sample cell is 25ml and each measurement needs to wait one minute. 1:10
diluted leachate samples were tested by two times. The sample appeared the black
precipitate after the Nitra Ver 5 Nitrate Reagent Powder Pillow was added. The first
result is 1.2 mg/L NO 3 -N and the second result is 1.0 mg/L NO 3 -N. The range of
result is from 0 to 30.0mg/L NO 3 -N, so the result of two times is allowed. The
average result is 1.1 mg/L NO 3 -N, which means the NO 3 -N has 1.1mg in the 1L
leachate sample.
(e.) Sulfate (0 to 70mg/L SO 4 )
The size of sample cell is 25ml and each measurement needs to wait five minutes.
1:10 diluted leachate samples were tested two times. No color change in the sample
after the Sulfa Ver 4 Sulfate Reagent Powder Pillow was added. The first result is
-2mg/L SO 4 and the second result is -1mg/L SO 4 -N. The range of result is from 0 to
70mg/L SO 4 , so the result of two times is un-allowed, which means the leachate
sample without the SO 4 .
5.5 pH and conductivity of measurement and result
The pH measurement using by the equipment names standard pH meter, PHM210.
The pH measurement can be performed by using the AUTOREAD function which
locks the result on the display as soon as the electrode signal has stabilized. The value
was stable about three minutes. The value of pH for the leachate samples is 7.17 in 22
degrees centigrade.
The Conductivity of measurement using by the equipment names conductivity meter,
CDM210. The conductivity of measurement could use the AUTOREAD function
also. As soon as the conductivity measurement has been accepted and corrected to the
reference temperature. The result is automatically present after a visual stability
indicator STAB is displayed. The value of conductivity for the leachate sample is
3.539mS/cm in 22 degrees centigrade.
6. Discussion of experiment result
According to the analysis experiment of selected parameters to make a table to
concentrated present the whole results (Table 6.1). At first, the quality value of
industry landfill leachate range in Finland and Canada will be present to compare with
the quality value of leachate sample in this experiment. The second step was to
compare with the domestic wastewater.
Table 6.1 Selected Parameters in landfill leachate by experiment. BDL= below
detection limit.
Landfill Leachate
Suspended solids
Nitrate, HR
Table 6.2 The quality of industrial landfill leachate in Canada and Finland (22.)
Canada 1)
Finland 2)
Suspended solids
1) Three landfills, number of samples 6-17.
2) One landfill, number of samples 6-10 in 1990-1994.
All other results except the suspended solids without value presented in Table 6.1,
were compared to the results in this experiment. The pH of leachate sample is 7.17 is
almost within the range of 6.8-7.1 in Finland, but it lower than the mean value which
is 7.4 in Canada (Tables 6.1 and 6.2). The pH from the landfill leachate is 7.1>7, the
leachate is neutral. The pH range of domestic wastewater is 7-8, and the mean value
of pH is 7 normal. So the pH of landfill leachate was in accordance with this
information. The conductivity is 3.529mS/cm and is in accordance with the Finnish
results, but lower than Canadian value 8.24mS/cm (Table 6.2).
The mean value of nitrate in measurement is 1.1mg/L, which is lower than the mean
value of 10 in Canada. The nitrate value of Finland landfill is not available. The mean
value of iron in measurement is 1.46mg/L, which is lower than the mean value is 3.6
mg/L in Canada. For comparison the concentration of nitrate is 0.0005mg/L in diluted
domestic wastewater. The concentration of nitrate is higher in leachate than in
domestic wastewater.
The range of iron is 18.2-31, which is the highest value measured in the Finnish study.
Actually, the iron was measured from industrial landfill leachate and seems to be
higher than in domestic landfill leachate in Finland. The mean value of phosphorus in
domestic leachate sample is 0.61mg/L, which is lower than the mean value 3.5mg/L
in Canada. However, it is lower than the range of 0.72-2.5 mg/L measured in Finland.
The concentration of iron in diluted domestic wastewater is 0.6mg/L. It seems that
iron is present in higher concentration in leachate than in domestic wastewater (Tables
6.2 and 6.3).
The mean values of chromium and sulfate were below detection limit. The typical
sulfate concentration in untreated wastewater range from 20 to 50mg/L, in general, in
crease about 15 to 30mg/L due to domestic use. Sulfate is an important in the growth
of plants, and S is an essential nutrient. Thus the presence of SO 4 in reclaimed
wastewater can be helpful, particularly for solid deficient in sulfur. (21.) Typical total
phosphate concentration in untreated wastewater range from 2 to 20mg/L, include 1 to
5mg/L of organic phosphorus and 1 to 15mg/L of inorganic phosphorus. (21.)
The mean value of chromium found in industrial landfill leachate 0.004-0.008 mg/L.
For comparison the concentration of chromium in diluted domestic wastewater is
0.015mg/L (Table 6.3).The mean value of suspended solid is not presented. The
suspended solid average is about 200mg/L in domestic landfill leachate, although the
higher levels may be reached. (24)
Table 6.3 Parameters in domestic wastewater. (23.)
Conductivity mS/cm 0.12
Nitrate, HR
The suspended solids in concentrated domestic wastewater are 450mg/L, and the
mean value of landfill leachate in this study is 224.1mg/L. The content of suspended
solids is lower in leachate than in domestic wastewater (Table 6.3).
The concentration of sulpate in domestic wastewater is in the range of 15-30mg/L.
For phosphorus the range in domestic wastewater is 2-20mg/L also. It means the
concentration of sulfate and phosphorus is generally lower in leachates than in
domestic wastewater. (Table 6.3)
7. Conclusions
For the management of landfill leachate, the first step is according to the literature
research is to study the circumstances in generation of landfill leachate, the
composition of landfill leachate, the characteristic of leachate and the typical landfill
design how to control and monitoring the leachate generation. The constructed
wetlands are an efficient natural system for leachate treatment. It can save costs and
be efficient method in pollutant removal. The biological, physical and chemical
processes are always needed in leachate treatment technology.
Otherwise, through the laboratory work some of parameters were selected to describe
the characteristics of leachate. The analysis is used as basic information in a project
which is done in collaboration with TAMK University of Applied Sciences and
Kunming Institute of Environmental Science. The concentration of heavy metals is
high in leachate sample, and the conductivity in leachate is lower than in domestic
wastewater. The leachate contains more contaminants than domestic wastewater and
thus needs efficient treatment process before disposal.
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Appendix 1
(1.) Instruction for HACH Spectrophotometer (iron)
For example, The HACH Spectrophotometer measure the range of iron (total) is from
0 to 3.00 mg/l. The operation instruction for measure the Ferro within the filtrated
leachate sample is according to the following steps from (a.) to (k.) and the figure
shows the detail of the process, others composition measurement is basically the
same, only the program number, the size of sample cell (10ml or 25ml), waiting time
and the type of Reagent powder pillow are different.
(a.) Enter the stored program number for iron (Fe) Ferro should press: 265 and enter
again, the display will show: Dial nm to 510.
(b.) Rotate the wavelength dial until the small display shows: 510 nm. When the
correct wavelength is dialed in, the display will quickly show: Zero Sample, then:
mg/L Fe FV.
(c.) Insert the Cell Riser for 10-ml sample cells.
(d.) Fill a clean sample cell with 10ml of sample.
(e.) Add the contents of one Ferro Ver Iron Reagent Powder Pillow to the sample cell
(the prepared sample). Swirl to mix.
(f.) Press: SHIFT TIMER. A three minute reaction period will begin.
(g.) When the timer beeps, the display will show: mg/L Fe FV. Fill another sample
cell with 10ml of sample (the blank).
(h.) Place the blank into the cell holder. Close the light shield.
(i.) Press: ZERO. The display will show: Zeroing… then: 0.00 mg/L Fe FV.
(j.) Within thirty minutes after the timer beeps, place the prepared sample into the cell
holder. Close the light shield.
(k.) Press: READ. The display will show: Reading… then the result in mg/l iron will
be displayed.
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