This investigation was conducted to evaluate experimental determination of specific gravity (Gs) of municipal solid waste (MSW). Water pycnometry, typically used for testing soils was adapted for testing MSW using a large flask with 2000 mL capacity and specimens with 100–350 g masses. Tests were conducted on manufactured waste samples prepared using US waste constituent components; fresh wastes obtained prior and subsequent to compaction at an MSW landfill; and wastes obtained from various depths at the same landfill. Factors that influence specific gravity were investigated including waste particle size, compaction, and combined decomposition and stress history. The measured average specific gravities were 1.377 and 1.530 for as-prepared/uncompacted and compacted manufactured wastes, respectively; 1.072 and 1.258 for uncompacted and compacted fresh wastes, respectively; and 2.201 for old wastes. The average organic content and degree of decomposition were 77.2% and 0%, respectively for fresh wastes and 22.8% and 88.3%, respectively for old wastes. The Gs increased with decreasing particle size, compaction, and increasing waste age. For fresh wastes, reductions in particle size and compaction caused occluded intraparticle pores to be exposed and waste particles to be deformed resulting in increases in specific gravity. For old wastes, the high Gs resulted from loss of biodegradable components that have low Gs as well as potential access to previously occluded pores and deformation of particles due to both degradation processes and applied mechanical stresses. The Gs was correlated to the degree of decomposition with a linear relationship. Unlike soils, the Gs for MSW was not unique, but varied in a landfill environment due both to physical/mechanical processes and biochemical processes. Specific gravity testing is recommended to be conducted not only using representative waste composition, but also using representative compaction, stress, and degradation states.


Civil and Environmental Engineering

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URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cenv_fac/314