Using observed data to improve estimated methane collection from select U.S. landfills

Xiaoming Wang, Ajay S Nagpure, Joseph F. Decarolis, Morton A. Barlaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The anaerobic decomposition of solid waste in a landfill produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and if recovered, a valuable energy commodity. Methane generation from U.S. landfills is usually estimated using the U.S. EPA's Landfill Gas Emissions Model (LandGEM). Default values for the two key parameters within LandGEM, the first-order decay rate (k) and the methane production potential (L0) are based on data collected in the 1990s. In this study, observed methane collection data from 11 U.S. landfills and estimates of gas collection efficiencies developed from site-specific gas well installation data were included in a reformulated LandGEM equation. Formal search techniques were employed to optimize k for each landfill to find the minimum sum of squared errors (SSE) between the LandGEM prediction and the observed collection data. Across nearly all landfills, the optimal k was found to be higher than the default AP-42 of 0.04 yr-1 and the weighted average decay for the 11 landfills was 0.09 -0.12 yr-1. The results suggest that the default k value assumed in LandGEM is likely too low, which implies that more methane is produced in the early years following waste burial when gas collection efficiencies tend to be lower.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3251-3257
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2 2013


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