Validation of Transport of VOCs from Composite Liners

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Contract Period:

7/1/2005 - 6/30/2007

Funding Source:


  • Tuncer Edil, UW-Madison
  • Craig Benson, UW-Madison
  • Christopher Carlsen, DNR

Wisconsin relies on groundwater as a primary source of drinking water. Therefore, protecting groundwater is essential to the health and welfare of Wisconsin’s residents. A variety of threats to groundwater quality exist. Solid waste landfills constitute a potential major threat, because more than 10 million tons of solid waste is landfilled in Wisconsin annually. Accordingly, assessing the level and pervasiveness of contamination of groundwater associated with engineered landfills in Wisconsin is imperative. A comprehensive evaluation of data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) characterizing the chemical constituents in leachate, and pan lysimeters associated with engineered landfills lined with both clay and composite (clay plus geomembrane) liners in Wisconsin indicate that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are commonly found in the municipal solid waste leachate and also detected in nearly 50% of the pan lysimeters placed beneath the landfill liners. The causes and mechanisms of contaminant transport in engineered landfills are understood theoretically and can be modeled. General conformance to the theory is observed for clay-lined landfills. However, the models of the transport of VOCs through modern composite liners have not been verified experimentally. The objective of this project is to assess validity of available models of VOC transport through composite liners. An experimentally verified transport model than will be used in evaluating potential for wide-spread contamination of groundwater from landfills and if necessary development of plans to prevent future contamination with confidence.

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