Influence of dynamic coupled hydro-bio-mechanical processes on response of municipal solid waste and liner system in bioreactor landfills
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A two-dimensional (2-D) mathematical model is presented to predict the response of municipal solid waste (MSW) of conventional as well as bioreactor landfills undergoing coupled hydro-bio-mechanical processes. The newly developed and validated 2-D coupled mathematical modeling framework combines and simultaneously solves a two-phase flow model based on the unsaturated Richard's equation, a plain-strain formulation of Mohr-Coulomb mechanical model and first-order decay kinetics biodegradation model. The performance of both conventional and bioreactor landfill was investigated holistically, by evaluating the mechanical settlement, extent of waste degradation with subsequent changes in geotechnical properties, landfill slope stability, and in-plane shear behavior (shear stress-displacement) of composite liner system and final cover system. It is concluded that for the given specific conditions considered, bioreactor landfill attained an overall stabilization after a continuous leachate injection of 16. years, whereas the stabilization was observed after around 50. years of post-closure in conventional landfills, with a total vertical strain of 36% and 37% for bioreactor and conventional landfills, respectively. The significant changes in landfill settlement, the extent of MSW degradation, MSW geotechnical properties, along with their influence on the in-plane shear response of composite liner and final cover system, between the conventional and bioreactor landfills, observed using the mathematical model proposed in this study, corroborates the importance of considering coupled hydro-bio-mechanical processes while designing and predicting the performance of engineered bioreactor landfills. The study underscores the importance of considering the effect of coupled processes while examining the stability and integrity of the liner and cover systems, which form the integral components of a landfill. Moreover, the spatial and temporal variations in the landfill settlement, the stability of landfill slope under pressurized leachate injection conditions and the rapid changes in the MSW properties with degradation emphasizes the complexity of the bioreactor landfill system and the need for understanding the interrelated processes to design and operate stable and effective bioreactor landfills. A detailed discussion on the results obtained from the numerical simulations along with limitations and key challenges in this study are also presented.
Two phase flow