Rule of Transmissivities

February 24, 2016

What is wrong with this design?
What is wrong with this design?

One general problem that is encountered in traditional designs is the potential for clogging of geotextiles in the vicinity of the leachate collection pipes.

Traditionally, leachate collection pipes are encased in gravel, wrapped in geotextile, and positioned above the leachate collection system geocomposite drainage layer inside a trench or at the trough of the bottom of a cell. In a traditional design, leachate travels through the geonet component of the geocomposite and reaches the leachate trench where the leachate collection pipe is located. Here, leachate must flow out of the geocomposite, through the upper geotextile component, and then through the geotextile wrapped around the gravel, before entering the gravel and eventually flowing through the pipe. The flow through the geotextiles is concentrated in small areas on the two sides of the leachate collection pipe-gravel-geotextile wrap. Considering the large volume of leachate that follows this path over the life of the cell, it is evident why traditional designs are doomed to clog.

The clogging impedes the free flow of leachate from the geocomposite drainage layer to the leachate collection pipe. As the clogging occurs, the leachate must find a new flow path (most likely further back from the collection pipe), and flow out of the geocomposite, through the geotextile wrap at a different location, and eventually enter the gravel and pipe. This new location will eventually clog as well for the same reasons that the initial location was clogged. This process continues until the geotextile within the leachate trench becomes completely clogged and the system loses functionality. Unfortunately, the periodic cleaning of leachate collection pipes (usually every few years) cannot address this issue because the problem is outside the pipe and the high-pressure jets inside the pipes do not reach the clogged locations.

What is the solution?

The solution is to eliminate geotextiles from the flow path of the leachate, extending from the geocomposite drainage layer to the leachate collection pipe. Over the past several years, SCS has successfully designed and constructed numerous landfill cells with no geotextile in the flow path of leachate from the geocomposite drainage layer to the leachate collection pipe. The design follows the “Rule of Transmissivities” which dictates that a proper design should provide the free flow of leachate from one medium to another and that only occurs when the transmissivity of the latter medium is equal to or greater than the transmissivity of the former medium. If a design does not satisfy the Rule of Transmissivities, there may be potential for clogging, bottlenecking of flow, and other consequences resulting from impeded flow in the system.

Designed by SCS to prevent future problems and maintenance issues.
Designed by SCS to prevent future problems and maintenance issues.

SCS Engineers is a leader in the design of landfill lining systems, and we have experience with issues that may not be familiar to other firms. If you are interested in the design of a leachate collection system at your facility, please contact SCS. Our professional engineers will gladly review your design and make recommendations if needed. We can identify potential issues and improve designs to prevent future problems and maintenance during the life of your facility.

Questions? Contact Ali Khatami, PhD, PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering. Dr. Khatami has acquired extensive experience and knowledge in the areas of geology, hydrogeology, hydrology, hydraulics, construction methods, material science, construction quality assurance (CQA), and stability of earth systems. Dr. Khatami has applied this experience in the siting of numerous landfills and the remediation of hazardous waste contaminated sites.

Read more here. Rule of Transmissivities at Material Interfaces in Landfill Leachate Collection Systems, in Talking Trash

Learn more here.

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am