Landfill, Leachate, Oxidation, Ferrate, Fenton's reagent, Biodegradability, solid waste, bioreactor, flushing, landfill cell stabilization


This dissertation is about treatment of the nonbiodegradable organic content of landfill leachate by chemical oxidation combined with biological treatment. It is divided into three parts. In the first part, ferrate was compared to Fenton's reagent for the purpose of removing non-biodegradable organic compounds from mature leachate. Oxidation conditions (time, pH, and dose) were optimized to yield maximum organic removal using two leachate samples from 20 and 12-year old solid waste cells. Results from this research demonstrated that ferrate and Fenton's reagent had similar optimum pH ranges (3-5), but different organic removal capacities, ranging from 54 to 79 % of initial leachate organic contents. An advantage of ferrate was that it was relatively effective over a wide pH range (Fenton's reagent lost its reactivity outside optimum pH range). Advantages associated with Fenton's reagent include a higher organic removal capacity, production of more oxidized organic compounds (measured as chemical oxygen demand/dissolved organic carbon), and production of more biodegradable byproducts (measured as 5-day biochemical oxygen demand/chemical oxygen demand). Finally, both treatments were found to oxidize larger molecules (>1000 dalton) and produce smaller molecules, as indicated by an increase in smaller molecule contribution to organic carbon. In part two, effects of Fenton's reagent treatment on biodegradability of three landfill leachates collected from a Florida landfill were evaluated using biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), biochemical methane potential (BMP), and tertamethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) thermochemolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The hypothesis was that Fenton's reagent will remove refractory compounds that inhibit biodegradation and will produce smaller, more biodegradable organic molecules which will result in an increase in BOD and BMP values. Both BOD and BMP results demonstrated that Fenton's reagent treatment did not convert mature leachate to biodegradable leachate, as indicated by a low BOD5 expressed as C /dissolved organic carbon (DOC) ratio of almost 0.15 in treated samples and a low net methane production / theoretical methane potential (less than 0.15). Ultimate BOD only slightly increased. However the first-order BOD reaction rate increased by more than five fold, suggesting that Fenton's reagent removed refractory and inhibitory compounds. BMP results demonstrated that the ratio of CO2/CH4 produced during anaerobic biodegradation did not increase in treated leachate (compared to untreated), indicating that small biodegradable organic acids produced by oxidation were removed by coagulation promoted by Fenton's reagent. Finally, the TMAH thermochemolysis results showed that several of the refractory and inhibitory compounds were detected fewer times in treated samples and that carboxylic acids did not appear in treated samples. In the third part of this dissertation the application of flushing/Fenton's reagent oxidation to produce sustainable solid waste cells was evaluated. A treatment similar to pump and treat process utilizing Fenton's reagent on-site treated leachate combined with in-situ aeration was proposed. Treated leachate would be recycled to the landfill cell flushes releasable nonbiodegradable carbon from the cell and oxidizes it externally. This technique was demonstrated to have treatment cost and time benefits over other alternatives for producing completely stable solid waste cells such as anaerobic flushing and biological and/or mechanical pretreatment of solid waste (used in the EU).


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Graduation Date





Reinhart, Debra


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Degree Program

Environmental Engineering








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)