Biodegradability of Wood Products under Simulated Landfill Conditions

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Title: Biodegradability of Wood Products under Simulated Landfill Conditions
Author: Padgett, Jennifer Margaret
Advisors: Morton A. Barlaz, Committee Chair
Francis de los Reyes, Committee Member
Ilona Peszlen, Committee Member
Abstract: Landfills are the highest source of anthropogenic methane in the United States. Although it is known that methane and carbon dioxide are common products of anaerobic degradation, the amount of methane and carbon dioxide produced is not known for some individual components of municipal solid waste (MSW). Accordingly, there is no data on methane yield or the amount of carbon sequestered during the anaerobic degradation of wood, a common component of MSW. It is important to obtain these data to estimate landfill methane yields and the role of wood in methane emissions. The objective of this research was to develop data to predict the rate and extent of wood decomposition in landfills. The decomposition of wood products was analyzed in reactors filled with a hardwood, a softwood and four engineered woods (plywood, oriented strand board, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard). They are the dominant types of wood products produced in the United States according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Experiments were conducted in triplicate in 8-L reactors containing the shredded wood and seeded with well decomposed refuse. To promote optimal biodegradation, reactors were maintained in a room at 35°C and operated with leachate recirculation and neutralization. Nitrogen and phosphorus were added to ensure that their availability did not limit the extent of degradation. Methane yields of 29.93, 7.40, 6.23, 66.55, 5.31, 4.59 ml of CH4/ dry gram of wood, were measured for hardwood, softwood, plywood, oriented strand board, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard, respectively. Natural extractives in the hardwood and softwood tested, did not have an effect on methane yield while the synthetic resins used in engineered woods contributed to the measured methane yields.
Date: 2009-12-03
Degree: MS
Discipline: Civil Engineering

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