Waste disposed of in landfill sites degrades over time and produces a liquid waste stream called landfill leachate. The volume of leachate produced is increased by rainfall. It cannot be directly discharged to water courses as it contains many hazardous pollutants and therefore must be retained for treatment. This proposal contains details of the approach we will take to develop an automated, modular, mobile leachate treatment system. The treatment will be carried out directly in an advanced oxidation process that uses reactions at both the anode and the cathode of a new form of electrolytic cell that we will develop. Whilst current treatment methods can be expensive to install and maintain, may involve the use of chemicals and require permanent positioning at the landfill site, our apparatus will allow new treatment strategies to be used by the landfill operators. The automated, mobile system will offer a flexibility of operation that is not currently available.
Cost savings will be made due to the reduced treatment time of our system, using reactions at the anode and cathode rather than the anode only. Additional savings can be made by the use of renewable energy to power the process. Electricity is the only resource required, hence wind or photovoltaic generation of power would allow operating costs to be minimised. With over 150,000 landfill sites across Europe, and an estimated annual spend of EUR 10-17 billion on leachate treatment, there is already a large market available.
It is expected that leachate treatment will become a bigger industry as environmental Directives, aimed at improving the quality of EU water, are implemented. Landfill leachate producers will not be the only waste stream producers that could benefit from our apparatus. Other industries such as food production, pharmaceuticals, petro-chemicals will also be able to see financial and environmental benefits of treating their waste streams using technology developed in the CleanLeachate project.