November 8, 2018

Kevin Kopp Coauthors Paper on Thermal Effects in Modeling of MSW Landfills for the International Congress on Environmental Geotechnics

Kevin Kopp (California) coauthored a paper entitled "Incorporating Thermal Effects in Modeling of municipal solid waste (MSW) Landfills" that was presented at the International Congress on Environmental Geotechnics (ICEG) and published in the Proceedings of the 8th International Congress on Environmental Geotechnics: Towards a Sustainable Geoenvironment on October 11, 2018.

His coauthors were: Girish Kuma, Krishna R. Reddy, James L. Hanson, and Nazli Yesiller.

Kevin is a Senior Staff Engineer based in California, focused on water resources and waste management. His undergraduate studies focused on surface and ground water interaction as well as numerical modeling. He continued to study water resources in his master's program while pursuing heat extraction from municipal solid waste landfills as his thesis topic.

This book gathers selected papers presented at the 8th ICEG, held in October 2018 in Hangzhou, China. The theme of the congress is "Towards a Sustainable Geoenvironment," which means meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Under this theme, the congress covers a broad range of topics and provides an opportunity for academics, engineers, scientists, government officials, regulators, and planners to present, discuss and exchange notes on the latest advances and developments in the research and application of environmental geotechnics.


Heat is one of the primary byproducts of biodegradation of municipal solid waste (MSW). Biodegradation of MSW in landfills induces changes in physical properties, mechanical response of MSW, and flow of leachate within the MSW pore spaces. Moreover, biodegradation of MSW in landfills is temperature dependent and consequently the engineering properties of MSW are all influenced by waste temperatures. Thus, landfills are complex systems with interrelated processes and it is crucial to account for all these interdependencies to accurately predict the coupled behavior of MSW. In this study, a coupled-thermo-hydro-bio-mechanical model was formulated that incorporates the effect of temperature on heat generation and biodegradation of MSW. The model integrates a two-phase flow hydraulic model, a plane-strain formulation of the Mohr-Coulomb mechanical model, a first order decay biodegradation model, and a one-dimensional heat conduction model with temperature-dependent heat generation. Numerical simulations were carried out using a typical landfill configuration with leachate injection simulating a bioreactor landfill. The simulations were carried out with and without temperature effects to determine the influence of temperature on MSW behavior. The results indicate a significant influence of temperature on the MSW response (degradation and settlement) and underscore the importance of incorporating thermal effects in numerical modeling of MSW landfill systems.

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