Two UT Arlington civil
engineering professors are working with a new imaging system that has doubled
the amount of methane gas produced by the city of Denton landfill.
The landfill is the first in
Texas to implement the Enhanced Leachate Recirculation system. The gas now
provides power for about 1,500 Denton households. However, with increased
efficiency of ELR operation, the system will be able to power 3,000 homes in
the city of 117,000, officials said.
Sahadat Hossain and Melanie
Sattler, associate professors of civil
engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington, have helped the city
of Denton increase the efficiency of their landfill operation.
Vance Kemler, general manager of
Denton’s Solid Waste and Recycling Services Department, said the UT Arlington
team’s work with Denton has peaked the interest of officials in Garland and
Corpus Christi as well, he said.
“This research is a significant
accomplishment, and it will change the landfill operation best management practices
for us and others in the state of Texas,” Kemler said.
Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the
UT Arlington College of Engineering,
said the work by Hossain and Sattler holds promising results for municipalities
“This is the kind of innovation
that will help cities harness available energy resources and maximize the
utilization of available spaces at a time of unprecedented urban growth,”
Bardet said. “I applaud the work of Drs. Hossain and Sattler.”
Hossain and Sattler are funded
through a three-year, $344,414 grant from the city of Denton. Their current
project will focus on monitoring what they call “fugitive emissions” of
landfill gas and increasing efficiency of the landfill gas collection system.
This project will help Denton’s landfill
move toward operation as a sustainable landfill, a new idea in landfill
management. A sustainable landfill integrates ELR landfill operation, renewable
energy generation and reutilization of the same landfill space. This is the
second project with city of Denton for UT Arlington.
ELR landfills use the controlled
addition of water to more rapidly decompose organic materials to produce methane.
In a landfill, leachate is the contaminated water that trickles through the
waste. Monitoring moisture movement due to water addition remains a major
challenge and roadblock for implementation of ELR landfills.
Hossain and Sattler successfully
utilized a resistivity imaging method, an advanced tool, to monitor moisture
movement during ELR operation. Resistivity imaging helps landfill managers know
how quickly to recirculate the liquid and how effectively the system is working,
Hossain and his recently
graduated doctoral student, Huda Shihada, developed a model through which they
can quantify the moisture content without a need for drilling or destructive
“This is the first time a model
like this has been developed in the world,” Hossain said. “This has the
potential to change the way landfills operate.”
Sattler said most current
landfills require drilling to collect waste samples.
“That drilling releases some of
the methane gas into the atmosphere,” Sattler said. “That’s bad for the air
because methane is a greenhouse gas and something the EPA is concerned about.
With the new system, you don’t need to drill the holes.”
Currently, the city of Denton is
working on a permit modification to operate their landfill using the method
developed by Hossain. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will review
that permit modification soon.
TCEQ has invited Hossain twice in last three years to present his
research findings at the Austin-based commission headquarters.
Hossain and Sattler’s work is
representative of the innovation under way at The University of Texas at
Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of more than 33,200 students and
more than 2,200 faculty members in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.