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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 37 No. 1, p. 146-153
     
    Received: May 12, 2006


    * Corresponding author(s): baeumler@geographie.uni-erlangen.de
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doi:10.2134/jeq2006.0191

Spectroscopic and Wet Chemical Characterization of Solid Waste Organic Matter of Different Age in Landfill Sites, Southern Germany

  1. Rupert Bäumler *ab and
  2. Ingrid Kögel-Knabnera
  1. a Technische Universität München, Lehrstuhl für Bodenkunde am Wissenschaftszentrum für Ernährung, Landnutzung und Umwelt, Department für Ökologie, Am Hochanger 2, D-85350 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany
    b present address: Institut für Geographie, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Kochstr. 4/4, 91054 Erlangen, Germany

Abstract

Landfill sites are potential sources of hazardous emissions by degradation and transformation processes of waste organic matter. Its chemical composition and microbial degradability are key factors for risk management, after-care, and estimation of potential emissions. The aim of the study is to provide information about composition and extent of transformation of waste organic matter in four landfill sites in Bavaria, Southern Germany by means of 13C NMR spectroscopy, acid-hydrolyzable carbohydrates, chloroform-methanol extractable lipids, acid-hydrolyzable proteins, and lignin compounds after CuO oxidation. Ten samples of about 20 to 25 yr, 15 to 20 yr, and 5 to 10 yr of deposition each were taken at 2 m depth intervals by grab drilling till 10-m depth. Increasing temperatures from about 15°C at 2-m depth to >40°C at 10-m depth are found at some of the sites, representing optimum conditions for mesophile methane bacteria. Moisture contents of 160 to 310 g kg−1 (oven dry), however, provide limiting conditions for anaerobic biodecay. Spectroscopic and chemical variables generally indicate a low extent of biodegradation and transformation at all sites despite a considerable heterogeneity of the samples. Independent of the time and depth of deposition more than 50% of the carbohydrate fraction of the waste organic matter provide a high potential for methane emissions and on-site energy production. There was no significant accumulation of long-chain organic and aromatic compounds, and of lignin degradation products even after more than 25 yr of rotting indicating higher extent of decomposition or stabilization of the waste organic matter. Installation of seepage water cleaning and recirculation systems are recommended to increase suboptimal moisture contents with respect to microbial methanogenesis, energy production, and long-term stabilization of municipal solid waste.

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