Bioreactor landfills are an effective waste-to-energy technology as they promote rapid waste biodegradation and stabilization. This increases landfill gas generation and enhances waste settlement, which maximizes air space and minimizes the landfill footprint. However, much of the research to date has focused on laboratory-scale bioreactors or bioreactors operating in warmer climates. Therefore, there is a need to better understand and optimize the waste stabilization processes occurring in the field in northern climates in order to maximize the benefits of this technology. The research involves a three-year effort to instrument a cell of the Ste. Sophie bioreactor landfill. Two vertical profiles of six instrument bundles record the temperature, settlement, total load, percent oxygen, moisture content, mounding of leachate and electrical conductivity. The ambient temperatures at the site and within the waste help estimate the thermal conductivity of the waste and heat flux to/from the waste. While the ambient temperatures during the summer have been as high as 30°C, the temperatures recorded in the middle of a waste layer placed during the winter months show a constant temperature of minus 2-3°C during the same summer period, indicating the waste has a very low thermal conductivity. More importantly, waste degradation and stabilization is negligible at these temperatures. Preliminary modelling of instrument bundle data has begun, with the ultimate goal of developing a model of heat transfer and generation in the landfill. The modelling has confirmed the waste is a great insulator, having a low thermal conductivity and high latent heat of fusion.

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Conference Annual Conference of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering 2012: Leadership in Sustainable Infrastructure, CSCE 2012
Bonany, J.E., van Geel, P, & Gunay, H.B. (2012). Examining Heat Transfer at the Sainte-Sophie Anaerobic Bioreactor Landfill, Quebec, Canada. In Proceedings, Annual Conference - Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (pp. 1272–1282).