Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Charcoal studied for landfill methane containment

Date:
March 13, 2012
Source:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Summary:
Methane, a potent greenhouse gas that's more than 20 times more effective at trapping atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide, slowly leaks from old, abandoned landfills and town dumps. Researchers are now testing inexpensive biochar as a landfill cover ingredient to keep escaping methane in check.

Methane, often used for cooking and heating, is a potent greenhouse gas -- more than 20 times more effective at trapping atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide. A major source of slow methane leaks is old, abandoned landfills and town dumps.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Chicago. "Charcoal studied for landfill methane containment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313140431.htm>.
University of Illinois at Chicago. (2012, March 13). Charcoal studied for landfill methane containment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313140431.htm
University of Illinois at Chicago. "Charcoal studied for landfill methane containment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313140431.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins