A simple model for the distribution and fate of organic chemicals in a landfill: MOCLA

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    A simple mathematical model (MOCLA: Model for Organic Chemicals in Landfills) is presented, describing the distribution of organic chemicals between leachate, gas and solid waste. The model also predicts the fate of the chemicals in terms of emissions with leachate and landfill gas and in terms of degradation and transformation in the landfill. Local equilibrium is assumed for the distribution of the chemicals in the landfill as expressed by Henry’s Law for the leachate-gas interface, and by the linear partition coefficient based on the waste solid organic carbon content for the waste-leachate interface. Degradation of the chemicals is expressed as a first order reaction. Annual specific leachate and gas generation data in combination with data on landfill area and volume allow for prediction of main emission routes. Model simulations involving two landfill scenarios for a number of chemicals with different physico-chemical characteristics indicate that volatilisation is a likely route for some chemicals (e.g. vinyl chloride, and some of the freons), while other chemicals (e.g. phenol, lower chlorinated aliphatic compounds) more likely will appear as dissolved in the leachate. However, many chemicals will be strongly associated with the solid waste (e.g. dichlorobenzene, naphthalene, and higher Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and the pool available will be able to supply the landfill gas and leachate with organic trace components for decades unless these are degraded in the landfill. The model suggests that, in addition to the physico-chemical characteristics of the organic chemical, the presence of free phases of organic chemicals and the degradability of the chemicals are the main factors controlling the fate and emissions of organic chemicals in the landfill environment.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWaste Management and Research
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)201-216
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • gas
    • degradation
    • organic chemicals
    • emission
    • leachate
    • landfill
    • phase distribution


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