While containing gas at these sites can be expensive, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers believe an effective and cheap way to trap it may be as easy as laying down a covering using charcoal as the key ingredient.
UIC civil and materials engineering professor Krishna Reddy and earth and environmental sciences research professor Jean Bogner think layers of biochar, either by itself or mixed with soil, can trap and hold on to escaping methane long enough for methanotropic bacteria to break it up, producing less-harmful carbon dioxide as a byproduct.
"Our concept is to design a cheap and effective cover system," said Reddy, who has done extensive research on landfill management solutions. "We've done preliminary studies on biochar and found it has the characteristic of being able to adsorb methane."
Biochar is charcoal made from biomass, such as wood and crop waste. It is basically carbon with high surface areas where bacteria cling, waiting to trap and consume any passing methane gas. Most methane escapes from old dumps or landfills before the bacteria can do its work. Biochar helps hold the gas in place.
Reddy and Bogner received a $350,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation to test biochar for use on landfills. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are at least 10,000 old or abandoned dumps and landfills around the country that could use an inexpensive containment cover to trap slow leaks of methane.
Reddy and Bogner will do lab analysis of biochar made from different sources, testing for ability to hold moisture, acidity levels, and ash content. They will determine which charcoals work best at containing methane, how well it works in soil mixes, and what thickness is needed to be effective.
Reddy said another advantage of biochar is that it helps oxygenate soil, providing an environment where methanotropic bacteria can flourish. It is a cheap, sustainable product that can be made from crop waste in a pyrolysis unit on site at a landfill. The process also produces a bio-gas or oil byproduct that can be used for fuel.
"Our lab data will be fed into a mathematical model that we'll use to scale up systems," Reddy said. "We'll do field testing to validate the model." The UIC project will take about three years.
"We want our model to serve as a design tool," Reddy said. "Every landfill site is different, but we hope our model can be used to analyze site-specific conditions to design an effective cover system."
"It's relatively cheap and it's a simple operation. We hope landfill operators and government regulators will like it," he said.
The NSF grant will support one undergraduate and two graduate student research assistants. Reddy also plans to discuss his research in graduate-level seminars, and in talks to government regulators and to middle- and high-school science teachers.
Paul Francuch | Newswise Science News
Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy