Author(s): Amadi Agapitus
Compacted soil -bentonite mixtures are finding wide application as buffer material for waste repositories for their favorable self-sealing qualities. The swelling properties of such materials which serve as a measure of their self-sealing capabilities and, thus, the efficiency of the repository in sealing off their contents from the environment are closely related to the chemistry of the leachate that emanate from the wastes. For this reason, the swelling parameters (namely swelling potential and pressure) of compacted lateritic soil-bentonite mixtures under consideration for use as barrier in municipal waste landfill were evaluated. Series of swelling potential and pressure tests were performed using variable content (0-10 %) of bentonite at predetermined optimum moisture content. Soil mixtures were compacted with British Standard Heavy compactive effort and saturated with processed tap water as well as three leachate solutions of varying ionic strength that were generated in active open dump landfills. Experimental results showed that swelling potential based on the free swell together with the maximum swell pressures of compacted soil mixtures measured at equilibrium increased approximately linearly with increase in the amount of bentonite when inundated with processed tap water and the three leachate solutions. On the other hand, these swelling parameters decreased as the ionic strength of the leachate solutions measured by their electrical conductivity increased for the various soil mixtures. These results provide an insight into the swelling behavior and the possible degradation in the efficiency of the proposed lateritic soil-bentonite mixtures in relation to their use as buffer material in waste landfills.