Project at a Glance

Title: Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and Trace Volatile Organic Compound Emissions and Gas Collection System Efficiencies in California Landfills

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Hanson, James L.; Yesiller, Nazli; Manheim, Derek

Contractor: California Polytechnic State University

Contract Number: 16ISD006

Research Program Area: Climate Change


This investigation was conducted to provide detailed assessment of emissions of 82 gases consisting of 4 primary greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide) and 78 non-methane volatile organic compounds (categorized under 11 chemical families) from landfills in California. Limited field emissions data are available for these gases for intra- and inter-landfill variations in California or elsewhere. Initially, analysis was conducted to identify and select representative landfills for emissions measurements. In extensive field testing, methane emissions were determined using aerial measurements at 16 selected landfills and emissions of all 82 gases were determined using ground-based static flux chamber measurements at a subset of 5 landfills. Baseline air quality and emissions from the three main categories of covers at active landfills (daily, intermediate, and final) were determined at the five sites over the two main seasons (wet and dry) in California. The minimum and maximum measured fluxes were -3.73x100 to 9.62x101 g/m2 day for methane. The nitrous oxide and trace non-methane volatile organic compound fluxes were lower and ranged from -4.10x10-3 to 1.45x10-1 and -1.93x10-3 to 1.81x100 g/m2-day, respectively. The main factor that controlled surface flux was cover characteristics. The fluxes generally decreased with the order daily, intermediate, and final covers; high to low permeability covers; and thin to thick covers. The gas collection system efficiencies were determined to range from 23.2 to 91.4% (aerial measurements), 38.9 to 100% (ground measurements), and 24.5 to 75.9% (LandGEM) Model.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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