Landfill Biodegradation

There are two types of landfills; dry tomb and bioreactors. Dry tomb landfills are simply a big hole in the ground where garbage is compacted as tightly as possible to save space and the tomb is sealed off reduce the amount of oxygen and moisture getting in. The approach to dry tomb landfills is to “try” and prevent garbage from biodegrading. This approach, which has been used for hundreds of years, creates a dry tomb in the hope that it will be ‘out of sight out of mind’.
Bioreactor landfills, on the other hand, are advancements in landfill design to promote anaerobic biodegradation. This type of landfill continues to compact the garbage as tightly as possible to keep the oxygen out and to reduce space. However, to encourage anaerobic biodegradation bioreactor landfills do something that dry tomb landfills do not, they circulate moisture through the garbage. By adding moisture, biodegradation happens very quickly and in the case of bioreactor landfills the same area being used for the landfill can be extended by 20 – 50 years longer. The most wonderful aspect of bioreactor landfills is that the byproduct of anaerobic biodegradation is the off gassing of methane which is used as a source for clean inexpensive energy…

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