Lysimeter comparison of the role of waste characteristics in the formation of mineral deposits in leachate drainage systems
A common operational problem in leachate collection systems is clogging due to the formation of deposits within pore spaces and collection pipes. The role of co-disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) and combustion residues from waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities in clogging is evaluated in this paper. Five parallel lysimeters were operated in monofill or co-disposal mode using MSW, WTE combustion residues, and water/wastewater treatment byproducts. Leachate was applied to each lysimeter to simulate sequential flooding and draining and leachates were characterized over a 7-month period. Waste composition and the presence/absence of biological activity influenced the redox potential, pH, and alkalinity, which impacted the rate and extent of biological degradation and chemical solubility. Calcium carbonate was identified as the most abundant chemical precipitate. Leachates from ash mono-fills were highly alkaline (pH > 11) and had higher ionic strength due to relatively higher levels of calcium and other minerals, while carbonate levels were limited due to the lack of biological activity. The MSW monofill generated leachates with high levels of biological activity, lower concentrations of calcium, and a rich carbonate system. Co-disposal of MSW, combustion and treatment process residues generated leachates that were not limited in either calcium or carbonate, creating ideal conditions for formation of precipitates.