Tag Archives: landfills

Linnaeus University study: Landfills: A future source of raw materials

25 Mar

The Environmental Research Foundation has a primer on landfills:

WHAT IS A LANDFILL?
A secure landfill is a carefully engineered depression in the ground (or built on top of the ground, resembling a football stadium) into which wastes are put. The aim is to avoid any hydraulic [water-related] connection between the wastes and the surrounding environment, particularly groundwater. Basically, a landfill is a bathtub in the ground; a double-lined landfill is one bathtub inside another. Bathtubs leak two ways: out the bottom or over the top.
WHAT IS THE COMPOSITION OF A LANDFILL?
There are four critical elements in a secure landfill: a bottom liner, a leachate collection system, a cover, and the natural hydrogeologic setting. The natural setting can be selected to minimize the possibility of wastes escaping to groundwater beneath a landfill. The three other elements must be engineered. Each of these elements is critical to success.
THE NATURAL HYDROGEOLOGIC SETTING:
You want the geology to do two contradictory things for you. To prevent the wastes from escaping, you want rocks as tight (waterproof) as possible. Yet if leakage occurs, you want the geology to be as simple as possible so you can easily predict where the wastes will go. Then you can put down wells and capture the escaped wastes by pumping. Fractured bedrock is highly undesirable beneath a landfill because the wastes cannot be located if they escape. Mines and quarries should be avoided because they frequently contact the groundwater.
WHAT IS A BOTTOM LINER?
It may be one or more layers of clay or a synthetic flexible membrane (or a combination of these). The liner effectively creates a bathtub in the ground. If the bottom liner fails, wastes will migrate directly into the environment. There are three types of liners: clay, plastic, and composite.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH A CLAY LINER?
Natural clay is often fractured and cracked. A mechanism called diffusion will move organic chemicals like benzene through a three-foot thick clay landfill liner in approximately five years. Some chemicals can degrade clay.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH A PLASTIC LINER?
The very best landfill liners today are made of a tough plastic film called high density polyethylene (HDPE). A number of household chemicals will degrade HDPE, permeating it (passing though it), making it lose its strength, softening it, or making it become brittle and crack. Not only will household chemicals, such as moth balls, degrade HDPE, but much more benign things can cause it to develop stress cracks, such as, margarine, vinegar, ethyl alcohol (booze), shoe polish, peppermint oil, to name a few.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH COMPOSITE LINERS?
A Composite liner is a single liner made of two parts, a plastic liner and compacted soil (usually clay soil). Reports show that all plastic liners (also called Flexible Membrane Liners, or FMLs) will have some leaks. It is important to realize that all materials used as liners are at least slightly permeable to liquids or gases and a certain amount of permeation through liners should be expected. Additional leakage results from defects such as cracks, holes, and faulty seams. Studies show that a 10-acre landfill will have a leak rate somewhere between 0.2 and 10 gallons per day.
WHAT IS A LEACHATE COLLECTION SYSTEM?
Leachate is water that gets badly contaminated by contacting wastes. It seeps to the bottom of a landfill and is collected by a system of pipes. The bottom of the landfill is sloped; pipes laid along the bottom capture contaminated water and other fluid (leachate) as they accumulate. The pumped leachate is treated at a wastewater treatment plant (and the solids removed from the leachate during this step are returned to the landfill, or are sent to some other landfill). If leachate collection pipes clog up and leachate remains in the landfill, fluids can build up in the bathtub. The resulting liquid pressure becomes the main force driving waste out the bottom of the landfill when the bottom liner fails.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PROBLEMS WITH LEACHATE COLLECTION SYSTEMS?
Leachate collection systems can clog up in less than a decade. They fail in several known ways:
1. they clog up from silt or mud;
2. they can clog up because of growth of microorganisms in the pipes;
3. they can clog up because of a chemical reaction leading to the precipitation of minerals in the pipes; or
4. the pipes become weakened by chemical attack (acids, solvents, oxidizing agents, or corrosion) and may then be crushed by the tons of garbage piled on them.
WHAT IS A COVER?
A cover or cap is an umbrella over the landfill to keep water out (to prevent leachate formation). It will generally consist of several sloped layers: clay or membrane liner (to prevent rain from intruding), overlain by a very permeable layer of sandy or gravelly soil (to promote rain runoff), overlain by topsoil in which vegetation can root (to stabilize the underlying layers of the cover). If the cover (cap) is not maintained, rain will enter the landfill resulting in buildup of leachate to the point where the bathtub overflows its sides and wastes enter the environment.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS WITH COVERS?
Covers are vulnerable to attack from at least seven sources:
1. Erosion by natural weathering (rain, hail, snow, freeze-thaw cycles, and wind)
2. Vegetation, such as shrubs and trees that continually compete with grasses for available space, sending down roots that will relentlessly seek to penetrate the cover;
3. Burrowing or soil- dwelling mammals (woodchucks, mice, moles, voles), reptiles (snakes, tortoises), insects (ants, beetles), and worms will present constant threats to the integrity of the cover;
4. Sunlight (if any of these other natural agents should succeed in uncovering a portion of the umbrella) will dry out clay (permitting cracks to develop), or destroy membrane liners through the action of ultraviolet radiation;
5. Subsidence–an uneven cave-in of the cap caused by settling of wastes or organic decay of wastes, or by loss of liquids from landfilled drums–can result in cracks in clay or tears in membrane liners, or result in ponding on the surface, which can make a clay cap mushy or can subject the cap to freeze-thaw pressures;
6. Rubber tires, which “float” upward in a landfill; and
7. Human activities of many kinds.
Prepared by:
Environmental Research Foundation
P.O. Box 5036
Annapolis, MD 21403-7036
phone (410) 263-1584
fax (410) 263-8944
http://www.ejnet.org/landfills/

Linnaeus University reports that landfills could prove useful for a future source of raw materials.

Science Daily reported in Landfills: A future source of raw materials:

Decontamination of landfills and open dumpsites could prove profitable — both financially and for the environment. This is demonstrated by Yahya Jani in a new dissertation in environmental science from Linnaeus University.
Environmental pollution, health threats and scarcity of raw materials, water, food and energy are some of the greatest challenges our world is facing today. At the same time, landfills and open dumpsites are still the dominant global waste disposal options, despite the fact that the long-term environmental impact in the form of emissions of greenhouse gases and contaminated leachates is significant. However, much of the environmentally hazardous waste that has been dumped at landfills can be recycled as energy or reused as valuable raw materials in different industries according to Yahya Jani, doctor of environmental science and chemical engineering.
Landfill mining — the tool of the future
In his dissertation, landfill mining is suggested as a tool to achieve an enhanced circular economy model. Viewing the landfill waste as a potential resource instead of as a problem is a common thread in Yahya’s research.
“More than 50% of the deposited waste dumped at landfills and open dump sites can be recycled as energy or reused as raw materials. These materials can be used as secondary resources in different industries instead of being forgotten or viewed as garbage,” Jani explains.
His research also includes the extraction of metals from Småland’s art and crystal glass waste and different fine fractions.
Extracting 99 % of the metals
“I developed a method that enables the extraction of 99% of the metals from the glass waste that was dumped at Pukeberg’s glassworks and published the results. It is the first published article in the world that deals with recycling of metals from art and crystal glass,” says Jani.
In his research study at Glasriket, Jani also used chemical extraction to recycle materials from a mix of glass waste and soil fine fractions smaller than 2 mm. The technology involves mixing old glass waste with chemicals to reduce the melting point of the glass waste in order to extract the metals.
“The methods I’ve developed to extract metals from Småland’s glass waste can be used to extract metals from all types of glass, like, for instance, the glass in old TV sets and computers. Thus, this method can be further developed at an industrial facility for the recycling of both glass and metals of high purity. This can also contribute to a restoration of Småland’s glass industry by providing the industry with cheap raw materials. In addition, the extraction of materials from old landfills contributes to the decontamination of these sites and reduces the environmental impact and health threats” Jani concludes…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180323090958.htm

Citation:

Landfills: A future source of raw materials
Date: March 23, 2018
Source: Linnaeus University
Summary:
Decontamination of landfills and open dumpsites could prove profitable – both financially and for the environment.

Here is the press release from Linnaeus University:

Landfills – a future source of raw materials
Decontamination of landfills and open dumpsites could prove profitable – both financially and for the environment. This is demonstrated by Yahya Jani in a new dissertation in environmental science from Linnaeus University.
Environmental pollution, health threats and scarcity of raw materials, water, food and energy are some of the greatest challenges our world is facing today. At the same time, landfills and open dumpsites are still the dominant global waste disposal options, despite the fact that the long-term environmental impact in the form of emissions of greenhouse gases and contaminated leachates is significant. However, much of the environmentally hazardous waste that has been dumped at landfills can be recycled as energy or reused as valuable raw materials in different industries according to Yahya Jani, doctor of environmental science and chemical engineering.
Landfill mining – the tool of the future
In his dissertation, landfill mining is suggested as a tool to achieve an enhanced circular economy model. Viewing the landfill waste as a potential resource instead of as a problem is a common thread in Yahya’s research.
“More than 50% of the deposited waste dumped at landfills and open dump sites can be recycled as energy or reused as raw materials. These materials can be used as secondary resources in different industries instead of being forgotten or viewed as garbage”, Jani explains.
His research also includes the extraction of metals from Småland’s art and crystal glass waste and different fine fractions.
Extracting 99 % of the metals
“I developed a method that enables the extraction of 99% of the metals from the glass waste that was dumped at Pukeberg’s glassworks and published the results. It is the first published article in the world that deals with recycling of metals from art and crystal glass”, says Jani.
In his research study at Glasriket, Jani also used chemical extraction to recycle materials from a mix of glass waste and soil fine fractions smaller than 2 mm. The technology involves mixing old glass waste with chemicals to reduce the melting point of the glass waste in order to extract the metals.
“The methods I’ve developed to extract metals from Småland’s glass waste can be used to extract metals from all types of glass, like, for instance, the glass in old TV sets and computers. Thus, this method can be further developed at an industrial facility for the recycling of both glass and metals of high purity. This can also contribute to a restoration of Småland’s glass industry by providing the industry with cheap raw materials. In addition, the extraction of materials from old landfills contributes to the decontamination of these sites and reduces the environmental impact and health threats” Jani concludes.
According to the European commission in 2017, 60% (that is to say, 1,800 million tons) of the annually produced waste from 500 million EU inhabitants end up in landfills. In his dissertation, Jani shows that the extraction of valuable materials from this waste could contribute to reducing the overuse of natural resources on Earth and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and contaminated leachates, which are responsible for pollution of water resources. Decontamination of these places will contribute to a significantly reduced impact on both human health and the environment.
The results from Jani’s dissertation shed light on the need to view the dumped waste as a secondary resource and landfills and dumpsites as future bank accounts where future raw materials can be extracted instead of viewing them as a burden for human health and the environment.
Yahya Jani publicly defended his thesis “Landfills and glass dumpsites as future bank accounts of resources – waste characterization and trace elements extraction” on February 2, 2018. Download the dissertation
Read more about our research recycling of landfills: The Environmental Science and Engineering Group (ESEG)
Contact
Yahya Jani, +4676-222 07 64, yahya.jani@lnu.se
Liv Ravnböl, research communications officer, +4676-760 36 66, liv.ravnbol@lnu.se

The European Commission provides the following primer on raw materials:

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Website content
Raw materials
Raw materials are the basis of a large number of industrial value chains in the EU. Specific raw materials are needed to make a wide range of industrial goods such as car engines, mobile phones or wind turbines.
EU raw materials’ industry in a nutshell
• A large number of industries use raw materials as inputs, providing a total added value of €1300 billion.
• 30 million people employed in the raw materials’ industrial sector
• A sustainable supply of particular raw materials is of crucial importance for the development of green technologies
EU-Trade raw materials in figures (2013)
Table
Total EU importsTotal EU exportsEU-28 trade in raw materials(including energy products)EU-28 trade in non-energy rawmaterials0100200300400500600700800Billion Euros
EU Trade policy and raw materials
Raw materials play a significant role for the EU trade policy. In concrete terms, the European Commission developed a fully-fledged strategy for raw materials, which was outlined in the 2008 Communication entitled the Raw Materials Initiative . This was revised in February 2011 in a Communication , which further boosted the integration of raw material priorities in EU policies.
EU Trade policy is actively committed to ensure that the international raw materials markets operate in a free and transparent way. For this purpose, the EU’s trade strategy relies on three pillars:
• Definition of the rules of the game through bilateral and multilateral negotiations
• Enforcing the rules and tackling market barriers when required
• Promotion of the debate on raw materials, both in bilateral and multilateral settings.
Results on raw materials
• EU-Korea FTA includes the prohibition of duties, taxes or other fees on exportation.
• Upcoming EU-Singapore FTA includes the prohibition of duties, taxes or measures of an equivalent effect on exportation.
• EU and Central America, and Colombia/Peru trade agreements include a prohibition of export duties or taxes, with some minor exceptions.
• WTO accession Tajikistan: a commitment was secured on the prohibition of export duties or taxes, except for a list of products with bound rates.
• WTO raw materials’ cases against China: successful conclusion of the first WTO case against China’s export restrictions on 9 raw materials (bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorus and zinc) which were found in violation of WTO rules and of China’s commitments; a second case has been launched in 2012 against export restrictions applied by China on another set of products (rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum).
• Outreach and transparency work in the OECD outreach to third non-OECD countries is on-going, notably in close cooperation with the OECD.
http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/accessing-markets/goods-and-services/raw-materials/

A 2012 Daily Mail article explains why the Linnaeus research is so important.

Eddie Wrenn reported in The end of the gadget bonanza? China warns it is running out of the raw materials that power our mobiles, X-Ray machines, computers and cameras:

China’s rare earth reserves account for approximately 23 percent of the world’s total – but are being excessively exploited, the Chinese government has said.
Although 23 per cent is a high percentage for one nation to possess, China supplies over 90 percent of rare earth products on the global market.
We need the raw materials – chemicals such as yttrium, which is used in TVs, or lanthanum, used for camera lenses – for the modern tools we use everyday.
This runs the risk that if China starts reducing its output, we may see spiralling prices for our modern accessories – or even simply be able to produce them in the first place…. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2162163/China-Nation-23-worlds-rare-earth-materials-supplies-90-market.html

For the foreseeable future on a variety of fronts, the elephant in the room will be China.

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