Carbon isotopic characterisation and oxidation of UK landfill methane emissions by atmospheric measurements

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Biological oxidation of methane in landfill cover material can be calculated from the carbon isotopic signature (delta13CCH4) of emitted CH4. Enhanced microbial consumption of methane in the aerobic portion of the landfill cover is indicated by a shift to heavier (less depleted) isotopic values in the residual methane emitted to air. This study was conducted at four landfill sites in southwest England. Measurement of CH4 using a mobile vehicle mounted instrument at the four sites was coupled with Flexfoil bag sampling of ambient air for high-precision isotope analysis. Gas well collection systems were sampled to estimate landfill oxidised proportion. Closed or active status, seasonal variation, cap stripping and site closure impact on landfill isotopic signature were also assessed. delta13CCH4 values ranged from -60 to -54‰, with an average value of -57 ± 2‰. Methane emissions from active cells are more depleted in 13C than closed sites. Methane oxidation, estimated from the isotope fractionation, ranged from 2.6 to 38.2%, with mean values of 9.5% for active and 16.2% for closed landfills, indicating that oxidised proportion is highly site specific.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-175
Number of pages14
JournalWaste Management
Early online date2 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2021

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