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Barrier Layers

Jae K. (Jim) Park, Professor

Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University Of Wisconsin-Madison

Barrier Layers
Design considerations
Estimation of
permeability Slope stability
Selection of
landfill barrier
components Selection of barrier
Estimation of materials, slope,
leachate and thickness
Main design consideration: minimize migration of leachate
from landfills and remove leachate efficiently
Barrier Materials
Clay: low permeability; availability; compaction
Existing soils: existence of fractures and root holes; amend
the existing soils with bentonite, fly ash, or cementing
Geomembranes/flexible membrane liners (FMLs):
polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride; used on their own or as
part of a composite system Collection

Filter fabric Drainage layer mound
(optional) Low permeability liner Clay liner
Native material
Single Composite Barrier Types

Double-Composite Barrier Types (1)

Waste 1.5 to 2 ft protective
2 ft protective soil layer soil layer
Geotextile filter
Geonet Geotextile
Geomembrane 1 ft sand or gravel
drainage layer
1.5 to 2 ft
compacted clay layer Geosynthetic
Primary Geotextile clay liner
composite Geonet 1 ft sand
liner drainage layer
3 ft compacted
Secondary 2 to 3 ft compacted
clay layer
composite clay layer

Double-Composite Barrier Types (2)
2 ft soil layer
Waste Geotextile
2 ft sand 1 ft sand or gravel
4 in leachate collection leachate collection layer
pipe (placed directly (without and with
on geomembrane leachate collection pipes)
60 mil geomembrane 40 to 80 mil
2 ft compacted geomembran
clay layer e
1 ft sand leakage
6 in sand layer protection layer
1 ft compacted
40 to 80 mil
clay layer
2 tone
4 ft compacted
clay layer

Materials Used in Natural Soil Liners
Types of Clay
Montmorillonite, kaolinite, and illite
Crystalline Structure of a Clay
Silicate tetrahedron (SiO4) and octahedron consisting of aluminum
(Al2(OH)6) or magnesium (Mg2(OH)6)
Clay groups CEC (meq/100 g) Specific surface (m2/g) Expansion index
Kaolinite 3~5 10 ~ 20
Sodium 0.20
Calcium 0.06
Illite 10 ~ 40 65 ~ 100
Sodium 0.15
Calcium 0.21
Montmorillonite 80 ~ 150 700 ~ 840
Sodium 2.5
Calcium 0.80

There is a tendency for Ca to replace Na in the montmorillonite

structure causing shrinkage and the development of cracks.
Soil Selection for Compacted Soil Liner (1)
If a soil contains low plasticity index ( 10%),
the soil will possess insufficient clay to develop
low hydraulic conductivity.
A soil with high plasticity index ( 30~40%)
tends to form hard clods when dried and stick
clods when wet.

Recommended PI: 10% PI 40%

High PI clay, low PI silt
Soil Selection for Compacted Soil Liner (2)
Fine content: Fines are defined as the fraction of
soil on a dry weight bases that passes through
the openings of No. 200 sieve (0.075 mm).
Maximum particle size: Large particles can
interfere with compaction and damage the
geomembrane if it is placed on top of a
compacted soil linter.

Recommended particle size: < 1~2 inches (~5

mm, No. 4 sieve)

Soil Selection for Compacted Soil Liner (1)
Bentonite-soil admixture: Bentonite may be
added to clay-deficient soils in order to provide
a material with low hydraulic conductivity (< 1
10-7 cm/sec).

Recommended bentonite content: 4~6%

Placement Techniques (1)
Clay Liners
Properly select soil in terms of clay content
Use thicker liners to compensate for construction variability
Carefully supervise construction methods and quality control testing
Establish an effective monitoring program to reveal construction flaws
before serious problems occur
Use lysimeters in the field to monitor performance
Factors affecting compaction
Type of compaction, compactive effort, size of clods, bonding between
lifts, moisture contents
Optimum water content: saturation between 0.8 to 0.9; 0 to 3%
wet of optimum and at compactions equivalent to 95% Standard
Proctor (ASTM D698) or 90% modified American Society of
State Highway Transportation Organization (ASSHTO T99)
A wet-side compaction: low K because the soil particles are
arranged in a dispersed pattern
A dry-side compaction: a flocculated pattern, which offers better
paths for the flow of water and consequently high K
Sharp decrease in K

Placement Techniques (2)
Plastic clay: more difficult to break and compact in the field,
more sensitive, and less time to dry
Higher plasticity index: less permeable
Use clay with a plasticity index < 20 for ease of
installation and acceptable permeability
Desiccation: causes significant increase in K
Avoid by adding cover soil (> 0.3 to 1 m) or keeping
the soil moist by applying water during the periods in
which it is exposed;
A clay with a high liquid limit develops more
desiccation cracks ( 30 ~ 50%)
Freezing/thawing: causes irreversible increase in K; avoid
by adding cover soil or refuse in excess of the frost depth
Hydraulic conductivity measurements: in the lab vs. field;
exacerbated by the spatial variability of soil properties
and placement methods in the field.
Liquid limit measurement: 13
Laboratory Testing (1)
Ridged-wall permeameter
If the structure of the clay changes during permeation,
shrinkage, cracking, and/or piping can occur, this can result in
increased flow.
Flexible-wall permeameter
The confining pressure provided in a flexible-wall
permeameter can cause the clay to heal despite the structural
changes. As a result, little change in K is observed.

Laboratory Testing (2)
Use landfill leachate. If no leachate exists, use 0.01 N CaSO4-
added synthetic leachate.
If leachate-soil compatibility is not expected to be a problem, the
use of flexible wall permeameters with confining pressures
similar to those expected in the field is preferred.
Field-scale measurement
Measure seepage in the field using lysimeters; constructed in
and below the liner or in a trial liner
Double-ring infiltrometers may be employed during


Construction Techniques
Construct the liner as a series of layers
Place individual layers in 15 cm (6 in.) lifts at 2 to 3% wet of
optimum moisture content to create a 0.7 to 1.3 m (2 to 4 ft)
overall thickness in a total of four to eight lifts
Compact each of the 15 cm lifts by a heavy-footed roller (30
tons) making several passes on each lift
Use the roller feet be sufficiently long to work the layer
being placed into the layer below to ensure good bonding
between the lifts of soil to minimize the formation of lateral
flow channels between the lifts. If lateral flow occurs,
significant increases in hydraulic conductivity will result.
In situ liner K >> one to two orders of magnitude greater than
lab measured K
Total liner thickness: sufficiently thick to avoid construction
irregularities (e.g., a min. of 0.75 m)
Commonly use composite liners with a geomembrane over a
barrier of natural material (i.e., compacted clay liner)

Construction of Compacted Soil Liners

Soil compaction
Dumping clayey soil for (steel wheel compactor)
Contaminant Transport through Clay Liners
Diffusion is more dominant than advection.
Diffusion may transport contaminants at rates greater than
permeability-dependent advective flow.
Barriers may retard contaminants through the processes of
sorption, precipitation, biodegradation, and filtration.
Even though exposure of clay materials to landfill leachates
tends to increase permeability, permeability decreases because
of the biomass and precipitate accumulation at the clay
Carbonate Dissolution: likely to be modest
Cation Removal: by ion exchange, heavy metals are
attenuated (CEC value important)
Anion Removal: some are poorly attenuated
Other Inorganic Contaminants: no adverse effect on K
Attenuation of Biodegradable Organics: normally removed
Impact of Organic Solvents
Concentrated organic solvents could alter the structure of clay
soils and increase their Ks 100- to 1000-fold but not diluted
organic solvents.
Concentrated organic solvents cause shrinkage and cracking of
clay soils.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) tend to breakthrough quickly.
Organic liquid Group Representative liquids Comments on potential interaction
Organic acids Acetic acids Multiple potential attack mechanisms
Poor adsorption
Organic bases Aniline Rapid adsorption onto clays
Neutral polar Acetone, methanol Compete with H2O ethylene glycol
to wet clay
Reduce fluid viscosity
Adsorption inversely proportional to
Neutral nonpolar Xylene, heptane Dont compete with H2O to wet clay
Adsorb poorly onto clay
Field Performance
Compacted clay liners failed to exhibit field values of K of < 10-7
cm/sec due to inadequate design and installation procedures.
In Wisconsin, K < 10-7 cm/sec has been achieved through strict
design, installation, and quality assurance guidelines.
In metropolitan Toronto, K < 10-8 cm/sec was achieved.
Heavy metals were retained within the upper 15 cm of a clay liner,
with Fe, Zn, Cu, and Pb at background levels beyond the 15 cm
Diffusional transport of Cl- and Na+ reached 1.5 m into the clay in
15 years.
Leakage rates of 10 L/1000 m2/day, from full-scale landfills with
1.2 to 1.5 m thick clay liners have been reported.
Imcompatibility between MSW landfill leachate and the
compacted clay liners has not been a problem.
Liner K often decreased in the field because of sealing due to
precipitate formation, solids accumulation, and biomass growth
along the upper face of the liner and into cracks and fissures.
Landfill Environmental Monitoring Systems
installed as landfill
Single is being completed Landfill
composite or after landfill is
liner completed Ma
Double composite liner

In 1982, the U.S. EPA banned reliance on clay liners alone for
hazardous waste sites and stated that landfill should have a liner
that prevents migration of leachate during its active life.
The EPA came to the conclusion that a synthetic membrane leads
to virtually 100% removal efficiency and therefore specified use
of single or double liners using impermeable synthetic
Synthetic membranes = impermeable ??? (permeable to organic
No synthetic membrane is suitable for all wastes.
Geosynthetic includes:
Geonets: for drainage
Geogrids: for slope stability
Geomembranes: for isolation
Geotextiles: for reinforcement, separation, filtration, and
Geomats: for prevention of erosion of
exposed slopes such as landfill caps
Used for lateral drainage by providing a
medium through which the planar flow of fluids can occur.
The geonet has minimal depth, but the grid like character
provides extensive flow opportunity.

Sand Geonet 4.5 mm

30 cm

K = 0.2 m/sec,
K = 0.003 m/sec,
Thickness = 4.5 10-3 m
Thickness = 0.3 m
T = 0.2 4.5 10-3 =
T = 0.003 0.3 Transmissivities?
0.0009 m2/sec
= 0.0009 m2/sec
Equivalent hydraulic

Employed in the landfill as filters to
prevent the movement of soil fines into drainage
systems, to provide planar flow for drainage, or to act as
a cushion to protect geomembanes.
Typical K: 10-3 to 10-2 cm/sec comparable to sand
and gravels
Leachate drainage pipes should not be wrapped directly
in a geotextile because of potential clogging.
Should geotextiles be used on top of the drainage media
or as underlay or drainage underblanket?
Ref. Laboratory studies of clogging of landfill leachate
collection and drainage systems by Fleming and Rowe
Ensure that the initial lifts of waste being placed on top
of the leachate collection system have a low fines
Sensitive to ultraviolet light
Geomembranes or
Flexible Membrane Liners (FMLs)
Very low-permeability membrane
liners used with any geotechnical
engineering materials so as to
minimize fluid flow across them.
Intended to limit the movement of leachate
Thicknesses: 0.75 mm (30 mil) to 3.00 mm (120 mil)
Due to failure of some smooth-surface
membranes along the shear plane,
textured geomembranes are used to
minimize slippage of the geomembrane
/soil interface.
Geomembrane Compositions

Carbon black
Scrim reinforcement

Geomembrane Types (1)
Soften upon heating and can be molded
e.g.: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), thermoplastic nitrile
Crystalline thermoplastics
Polymeric chains folded in a crystal lattice, forming
lamellae (plate-like crystals)
Non-crystaline tie-molecules
connect lamellae:
More tie-molecules: flexibility

low-density polyethylene (LDPE), very low-
density polyethylene (VLDPE), high-density
polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene, and elasticized
Geomembrane Types (2)
Thermoplastic elastomers
Can be molded
e.g.: chlorinated
polyethylene (CPE),
chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE
or Hypalon), and thermoplastic ethylene-
propylene diene monomer (T-EPDM)
butyl rubber or isoprene isobutene
rubber, ethylene propylene diene monomer
(EPDM), neoprene, and polychloroprene

A Geomembrane-Lined Landfill for Special Hazardous
Waste (over 3 Million ft2 of Textured 80 mil HDPE)

Potential Problems with Geosynthetics
Ultraviolet degradation
UV radiation breaks polymer chains, make membrane brittle
Exposure to liquids causes polymers to swell
Oxidative degradation (aging)
Oxygen reacts with polymers, makes membrane brittle rather
than flexible
Note: This takes 100s of years, accelerated by heat
Separation of polymer layers
Extractive degradation
Extraction of particular component (such as plasticizer) from
Chemical degradation
Reaction of leachate components or organic chemicals with
liner 31
Fillers: used to reduce the cost and increase the stiffness without
altering the permeability - mineral particles, metallic oxides, fibers,
and reclaimed polymers (1~200 m)
Processing aids: used to reinforce or soften the compound during
the manufacturing process
Plasticizers: used to impart flexibility to the compounds, although
some plasticizers attract microorganism attack
Carbon black: used to impart a black color to the compound
which retards aging by ultraviolet light from the sun and increases
the stiffness of elastomeric compounds
Fungicides and biocides: used to prevent fungi and bacteria from
attacking the polymer
Antioxidants: used to reduce the aging effect of ultraviolet light
and ozone
Scrim reinforcement: used to increase the strength and improve
tear and puncture resistance; typically nylon or polyester
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Semi-crystalline thermoplastic
Typical content
97% polyethylene
3% carbon black (for UV protection)
Traces (up to 1%) of stabilizers and antioxidant
Most chemical resistant liner material
Low permeability
UV resistant (especially with carbon black and antioxidant)
30~140 mil-thick
Most widely used geomembrane
Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE)
Semi-cystalline thermoplastic
Also called very flexible polyethylene (VFPE)
More flexible than HDPE used for non-uniform
surfaces such as lagoons, pond liners, and landfill caps
Withstands tension, high elongation capability
Puncture and stress-crack resistant
Good chemical resistance
Low permeability
Good UV resistance
40~100 mil-thick
Coextruded HDPE and LLDPE

10~20% of thickness from HDPE for chemical

LLDPE for flexibility
Molten polyethylene bonds at molecular level: not a
White/black coextrusion for exposed geomembranes
(white side to sun to reduce temperature)

Coextruded HDPE and LLDPE

High/low carbon co-extrusion: high-carbon layer can

carry an electrical current
Electrical charge is applied
to high-carbon layer on
underside brass wand
brushed on surface will
spark at any holes. Brass wand

Flexible Polypropylene (fPP)

Usually scrim-reinforced for high tensile strength

36 or 45 mil-thick
Used for floating covers on surface impoundments,
other high stress applications
Good chemical, UV resistance

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
One of the earliest geomembranes
Typical mix
35% resin, 30% plasticizer, 25% filler, 5~10% pigment,
2~3% additives
Good puncture resistance
Good chemical resistance (for non-polar compounds only)
Excellent flexibility
Easiest material to install, easier seam formation using
Low cost

Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene (CSPE or
Thermoplastic elastomer: polymers cross-linked with sulfur
Always scrim reinforced (CSPE-R)
Also an early geomembrane
Used for exposed conditions like floating covers and
uncovered waste liners due to UV resistance
Thermoplastic initially: polymers crosslink over time and
become thermoset
Very good chemical resistance
(except aromatic hydrocarbons)
Excellent UV and temperature resistance
Fair to good tear, puncture resistance
Solvent or thermal seam
36 or 45 mil-thick
Butyl Rubber and Ethylene-Propylene
Rubber (EPDM)
Good resistance to UV and oxidation
Good temperature performance Butyl rubber
Low strength: butyl rubber
High strength: EPDM
Poor chemical resistance
Difficult to seam

Geomembranes or
Flexible Membrane Liners (FMLs)
HDPE: High density polyethylene
VLDPE: Very low density polyethylene
PVC: Polyvinyl chloride
CSPE-R: Chlorosulfonated polyethylene with fabric reinforcement
Properties of Geomembranes
Resin Plasticizer Filler black or Additives Density Thickness
Type Width
% % % pigment % g/cm3 mil
HDPE 95~98 0 0 2~3 0.25~1 0.934~0.94 15 or 30 30~140
VLDPE 94~96 0 0 2~3 1~4 0.89~0.912 15 30~100
PVC 50~70 25~35 0~10 2~5 2~5 - 40~80 10~60
CSPE 40~60 0 40~50 5~40 5~15 min. 1.2 40~80 10~60

Market share:
HDPE & Very Flexible PE (VFPE) (60 mil): 60~65%
PVC (30 mil): 35~40%
Geomembrane Manufacturing
Molten polymer is extruded in a non-
reinforced sheet
Coating of fabric with polymer
Heated polymer passed
through series of rollers
Sometimes with two sheets
or with scrims
Geomembrane Testing Methods
Variety of physical and chemical tests to evaluate materials
ASTM methods for:
Tensile strength (ASTM D638)
Tear resistance (ASTM D1004)
Puncture resistance (ASTM D4833)
Low-temperature brittleness (ASTM D746)
Stress crack resistance (ASTM D1693)
Carbon black content and diffusion (ASTM D1603 and D2663)
Accelerated heat aging (ASTM D573, D1349)
Density (ASTM D1505 or D792)
Melt flow index (ASTM D1238)
Thickness (ASTM D5199)
Ply adhesion (ASTM D413)
Geomembrane Stress-Strain
Source: U.S. EPA, 1994. Seminar
Publication: Design,
Operation, and Closure of
Municipal Solid Waste
Landfills. Report Number
EPA/625/R-94/008, Center
for Environmental Research
Information, U.S.
Environmental Protection
Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio.
September 1994.
L/Pubs/1994/625R94008.pdf )

Multi-axial stress vs. strain

for five geomembrane
materials (Frobel, 1991).

Critical factor for minimizing leakage
Required durability/polymeric properties: UV
stability, chemical stability, freeze-thaw stability,
biological stability, specific gravity, color, and water
Required mechanical properties: tensile modulus,
ultimate tensile strength, ultimate elongation, burst
strength, puncture strength, and creep strength
Thermal seaming
Chemical seaming
Extrusion or fusion welding
Mechanical methods

Thermal Seaming
Works with thermoplastic geomembranes only
(including crystalline thermoplastic)
Hotwedge (or knife)
Used for long seams
Requires 4~6 inch overlap
Traveling vehicle moves along seam, heating top and
bottom membrane Air pocket

For non-destructive testing

Hot air bonding
Dielectric bonding (not a field technique) 46
Hot Wedge Welder Hot Air Welder

For thinner, more

such as 40-mil
thick PVC
Three-Pass Hand Fusion Welding
Step 1
Membrane is welded in first pass
using heat from hand weld hot
air device and pressure with the
Step 2
The weld continues in the mid-
portion of the overlap in a
manner similar to that in Step 1.

Step 3
The weld is finalized by
continuing application of heat
and sealing edge with roller.
Air Pressure Test
Requires that the channel between the two welds be
sealed at both ends and inflated to 30 psi (2 bar)
Test results are positive when the pressure does not
fall more than 5 psi (.33 bar) in 10 minutes.
The pressure in the channel stresses the weld
providing evidence of its integrity.

Extrusion or Fusion Welding

Use with HDPE

Welder extrudes a ribbon of melted
HDPE (extrudated)
Used for patches
Usually pre-heat pieces to be
joined so that membrane will also
melt and fuse with extrudate

Alternative Field Seams for Geomembranes

Lap seam Lap seam with gum tape

Tongue and groove splice Extrusion weld lap seam

Fillet weld lap seam Double hot air or wedge seam

Special Seaming Considerations
Wrinkles perpendicular to seam
Should be cut along wrinkle ridge, welded, and then
patched over
Cold weather and hot weather
Compromises seam quality
Rain or fog
Seams should be free of moisture and clean

Reference website for chemical resistance and mechanical properties of various


Seam Testing

Trial welds
Welding of scrap pieces of geomembrane followed
by destructive testing of three 1-inch wide samples
Field tests
Seam tests
Vacuum tests
Destructive tests

Seam Strength Tests

Shear test

Peel test

Seam Tests
Used on double-track welds
Seal both ends with air injection needle welded in
Pressurize void between dual-track welds to 24 to 35
Pressure should remain stable, indicating no leaks
Cut end opposite needle: void should depressurize,
demonstrating no blockage of channel

Reference for seam tests: See 13.1.2 55
Vacuum Tests
Vacuum box with gasket,
viewing window
Soapy solution applied to seam
Vacuum box placed on top, depressurized to reach 3~5 psi
For a period of approx. 15 seconds, examine the
geomembrane through the viewing window for the presence
of animated soap bubbles
If seam leaks, bubbles will be apparent

ASTM D5641 - 94(2006) Standard Practice for Geomembrane

Seam Evaluation by Vacuum Chamber See 13.1.1
Destructive Tests

Approximately one test per 500 ft of seam

Patch of seam cut out, ten 1-inch samples created
Five samples for shear strength and five for peel
strength. To be acceptable, four out of five specimens
must pass.
Keep number of tests to minimum: locations of
samples must be patched See 13.2

Geosynthetic Clay Liners
Layer of clay between two
geotextiles or glued to geomembrane
Manufactured with bentonite
Bentonite clay [sodium bentonite in the U.S. {5 kg/m2 ( 1
lb/ft2) sodium bentonite}; calcium bentonite elsewhere]
Bentonite has a thick double layers and high swelling
Water is adsorbed until crystal sheets dissociate and form a
gel with thixotropic (becoming liquid when disturbed)
K = 10-9 cm/sec
Produced in 4~5 meter
(13~16 ft) panels, 20~60 meters
(66~197 ft) long
Geosynthetic Clay Liners (GCL)
Geotextile encased: sandwich of geotextile:clay:geotextile
Adhesive bonded: clay is mixture of clay and adhesive to hold
sandwich together
Example: Claymax 200R, Claymax 600CL
Stitch-bonded: held together with parallel rows of stitches
Example: Claymax 500SP
Needle-punch: held together with fibers punched through, sometimes
bonded to geotextile
Example: Bentomat, Bentofix
Geomembrane-supported sandwich of clay and geomembrane
Held together by adhesive mixed into clay
Example: Gundseal
Bentonite swelling seals GCLs
Many types self-seal at overlaps; for some types, extra bentonite is
applied to overlap
GCLs need to be covered quickly to prevent rapid hydration and
uneven swelling and self-sealing
Hydraulic Conductivity of GCLs
Increase with increasing compression (up to order of
Dessication increases K: K recovers upon rehydration
K relatively insensitive to freeze-thaw
If permeated by organic
liquid prior to hydration,
bentonite does not
hydrate and swell and
therefore does not
achieve low K.

Advantages of GCLs
Easier and faster to construct, with lightweight
Simpler quality assurance (QA)
Comparable in cost to clay liner
Clay:$0.50 to $5.00 per ft2
GCL: $0.42 to $0.60 per ft2
Small thickness conserves landfill space
Better freeze-thaw, desiccation resistance
Withstand differential settlement better than clay
Potential Failure Surfaces for a GCL
Potential failure surfaces
1. Interface between upper surface
of GCL and overlying material
2. Internal failure within GCL (can
be within bentonite or at the
internal interface between
bentonite and a geosysthetic
3. Interface between lower surface
of GCL and overlying material

Disadvantages of GCLs

Less shear strength

Less attenuation capacity
Faster diffusive breakthrough
Thin GCL more subject to puncture
Limited experience

Currently, GCLs are generally well accepted for use in

landfill covers and are gaining acceptance for use as
containment liners.
Liner Leakage
Permeation: occur at molecular level
Major leakage for volatile organic (nonpolar)
compounds (VOCs) but not for water or polar
Pinholes: defined as holes with diameter < liner
Originatein manufacturing
Usually negligible source of leakage
Holes: openings with diameter > liner thickness
Sources: defective seams, seam failures, punctures,
and construction damage
Water Vapor Permeation

Polymer Thickness Transmission

(mm) (mil) (g/m2/day)
PVC 0.28 11 4.4
PVC 0.52 20 2.9
PVC 0.76 30 1.8
CSPE 0.89 35 0.44
HDPE 0.80 32 0.017
HDPE 2.44 96 0.006

Solvent Vapor Permeation
0.8 mm (30 mil) HDPE

Solvent Transmission rate

Water vapor 0.017
Methyl alcohol 0.16
Acetone 0.56
Cyclohexane 11.7
Xylene 21.6
Chloroform 54.8

Summary of Geomembrane Materials
Heat resistance
Microbial resistance ?
Chemical resistance
UV resistance
Puncture resistance ~ ~
Ease of placement
Cost Moderate High Low
Tensile strength ?
Cold weather problems -
Source: McBean, E. A., F. A. Rovers, and G. J. Farquhar, 1995. Solid Waste Landfill
Engineering and Design. Prentice Hall PTR, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. 67
Geomembranes Leakage Rate
Darcys equation for geomembrane permeability
Q =K z Not valid when K is low (i.e.,
A T geomembrane K 10-12 cm/sec)
Poiseuilles equation for pinholes (during manufacturing)
Q = 128T

Bernoullis equation for large holes (during installation)

Q = ca2gz
where Q = discharge (m3/sec); Q/A = discharge per unit
area (m/sec); z = leachate mound height (m); K =
hydraulic conductivity (m/sec); T = thickness (m); d =
pinhole diameter (m); a = hole surface area (m2); =
density of water (kg/m3); = dynamic viscosity of water
(kg/msec); g = gravity acceleration (9.81 m/sec2); and c
= dimensionless coefficient (= 0.6). 68
Leakage Rates Example Calculations (1)
1 cm2 hole (or area) per 4000 m2 (i.e., 1 hole per acre)
Leachate mound height z: 0.3 m
Typical leakage rates through the primary liner
Hydraulic head
3 cm 30 cm
Geomembrane/clay 1 10
Geomembrane/silt 10 100
Geomembrane/sand 300 1,500
Geomembrane/gravel or geonet 600 2,000
Leakage Rate Example Calculations (2)
1 cm2 pinhole/acre 0.0005 m pinhole 510 hole
Q gzd 4

Acre 128T
3.14 995.7 kg 3 9.81 m 2 0.3 m (0.0005) 4 m 4 510 hole/acre
m sec day

128 0.001002 kg 0.0015 m
m sec
1.32 105 L/day
Q Q 2.47Acre
3.26 105 L/day
Hectare Acre Hectare
1 cm2 pinhole/acre 0.0113 m pinhole
Q 1,000 L 864,000 sec
0.6a 2gz 0.6 0.0001 m 2 2 9.81 m 2 0.3 m
Acre sec m3 day
12,577 L
Q Q 2.47 Acre
31,065 L
Hectare Acre Hectare day
Leakage Rate (Q, m3/sec) (1) [Giroud et al.]
When a geomembrane is underlain by low permeable media
for a circular defect,

Q=0.976Cqo[1+0.1(h/tUM)0.95]d0.2h0.9kUM0.74 (1)
Cqo = dimensionless coefficient that characterizes the quality
of contact between the geomembrane and the
underlying medium (good = 0.21, poor = 1.15);
h = leachate head, m;
tUM = thickness of the low-permeability medium underlying
the geomembrane. m;
d = defect diameter, m; and
kUM = hydraulic conductivity of the low-permeability
medium underlying the geomembrane, m/sec.
Leakage Rate (Q, m3/sec) (2) [Giround et al.]
When a geomembrane is overlain and underlain by infinitely
permeable media (Bernoullis Equation),
Q=0.6a 2gh = 0.15d2 2gh (2)
a = defect area (m2).
When a geomembrane is underlain by an infinitely permeable
5 2 log d log k UM

log Q 0.3195 2 log d 0.5 log h 0.74 (3)

n 5.5540 0.4324 log d 0.5405 log h

1.3514 log Cqo 1.3514 log 1 0.1

t UM

Giroud, J.P., Soderman, K.L., Badu-Tweneboah, K. (1998) New Developments in

Landfill Liner Leakage Evaluation.
Rate of leakage through a 2 mm diameter defect in a geomembrane underlain by a
medium, with a hydraulic conductivity kUM and a thickness tUM, overlain by a
medium that is significantly more permeable than the underlying medium, for
various values of the leachate head on top of the geomembrane, h (Giroud et al. 1997)

Eq. 2

Eq. 3

Eq. 1

Leakage Rate

Hydraulic conductivity of the

medium overlying the geomembrane

0.5 q = rate of leachate supply rate

aq i
Q Q 1 Q i on top of the medium

h ln 1 2
OMk 2 k
OM aq i 4g 0.6a overlying the geomembrane74
ak OM tan 2
A 2
q i k OM tan Q
B ;C
gL aq i

qi = leachate supply rate

L = horizontal projection of
the length of the
leachate collection layer
in the direction of the
= slope angle of the
permeable medium

L & ( & kOM) Q

At a given situation defined by L, , and qi, kOM Q 75
Leachate Flow in the
Leachate Collection Layer,
through a Defect in the
Primary Liner, and in the
Leakage Collection Layer:
(a) Cross Section; (b) Plan

Q = kto2 (19)
to t LCL (20)
k = hydraulic conductivity
of leachate collection
layer, L/T
to = max. thickness of
leachate in the leakage
collection layer
Leachate head
2k OM tan
Mass Flux through Geomembrane

Organic compound transport: Permeation >> Leakage

Park, J.K., Sakti, J.P., and Hoopes, J.A. Transport of Aqueous Organic Compounds
in Thermoplastic Geomembranes. II. Mass Flux Estimates and Practical
Implications, Jour. of Environ. Eng., ASCE, Vol. 122, No. 9, pp. 807-813, 1996.
Geomembrane Installation

2. Deployment from the base to top of

1. Positioning the roll of slope with a block and cable from a
geomembrane over the fixed object. Overlap controlled from the
deployment trailer with an base of cell and alignment. Slope angle
excavator or loader lifting 2.5:1
capacity min. 4,000 lbs. 78
Geomembrane Installation

2. Deployment from the base to top of

1. Positioning the roll of geomem- slope with a block and cable from a
brane over the deployment trailer fixed object. Overlap controlled from the
with an excavator or loader lifting base of cell and alignment. Slope angle
capacity min. 4,000 lbs. 2.5:1
ASTM D6497 - 02 Standard Guide for Mechanical Attachment of Geomembrane to
Penetrations or Structures
ISO 9001:2000 Geomembrane Installation Guide 79
3. Membrane positioned
throughout the base and slope
areas. Sandbags placed to
control wind uplift and
expansion & contraction on

4. Preparation of the base /slope

seam complete with a HDPE
runner to assist in field welding
over poor or wet soil conditions.

5. A 2" prequalification strip of
membrane is taken from an extrusion
weld or a wedge weld seam and is
tested with a portable laboratory

6. After the wedge welder is

qualified with test seam strip, it
is placed within the seam for
field welding. Technicians
monitor the wedge welder's
performance as it travels up the
slope area.

7. Wedge welder in the butt seam
placing slack wrinkle within the lining
system. Control of slack and potential
bridging of membrane are critical
factors for field installation.

8. Non destructive testing of wedge

welded field seams with central air
channel. Seam is pressurized and
stabilized for a 10~15 minute cycle.

9. Extrusion welder is qualified before

completing any patching or "T"
sections of wedge welded panels.
Extrusion gun is also used for detail
work and penetrations. 82
Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC)
Quality assurance: a planned and systematic pattern of all
means and actions designed to provide adequate confidence that
items or services meet contractual requirements and will perform
satisfactorily in service
Quality control: those actions that provide a means to measure
and regulate the characteristics of an item or service to
contractual and regulatory requirements
QA/QC for placement of membrane liner
Prepare a subgrade that is firm, flat and free of sharp stones,
gravel or debris
Use a qualified installation contractor
Follow manufacturers recommended procedures for the
adhesive system and seam overlap
Conduct installation during dry and temp. between 5~40C
Plan and implement a quality control program
Document inspection for review and record keeping
ttachmentII-9.pdf 84
Double Liners and Composite Liners
Optional filter material: separates the bottom portion of
waste from the leachate collection and drainage medium, to
reduce clogging of the drainage system
Drainage layer: must have high transmissivity and resist
plugging; gravel dia. > 38 mm
Protector layer: prevents materials in the drainage layer
from puncturing the primary geomembrane liner; a thick
needle-punched geotextile (filter fabric)
Barrier layer: frequently a geomembrane or a natural soil
liner or a combination of both; geosynthetic clay liners
Leak detection system: identifies leakage from the
primary liner system and enables it to be collected and
Secondary barrier (geomembrane): last defense against
leachate escape
Subgrade soil: native material
Cover System
A min. of 2 ft thick clay (50~70% by wt passing 200 sieve and K< 10-7
cm/sec) cap is frequently required above the venting and drainage layer
to provide a low hydraulic conductivity barrier to percolation.
Constructed in max. 6-in. lift heights after the soil is compacted to at
least 95% Standard Proctor Density with successive layers worked
together by a sheepsfoot roller with at least 6+ inch feet, and then proof-
rolled flat.
Desirable properties of a cap material
Resist biological attack Retard random permeation
Retard gas permeation Be critter resistant
Be impermeable to percolated surface waters
Have sufficient friction characteristics to prevent cover soils from
slipping and cracking open
Resist diminishing physical properties due to long-term soil burial
Should not impede vegetative growth
Not deteriorate under UV light if exposed for significant length of time
Retain physical properties over a broad range of temperatures
Accommodate localized settlement without rupture

Cap and Liner Profile