Landfills were still the predominant waste disposal process in China, with 0.17 billion tons in 2019 (Guo et al., 2021), and huge amounts of wastes were presented in 27 thousand old dumping sites and 1955 landfills registered in the Ministry of Construction and Ministry of Ecological Environment (Zhao and Lou, 2016). To reduce the secondary pollution and reuse these lands with the rapid urbanization process, landfill reclamation has been implemented to accelerate the landfill stabilization process, including aeration (Omar and Rohani, 2015), leachate circulation (Bae et al., 2019), mining (Faitli et al., 2019), etc. Among which, forced aeration was considered as an indispensable means to transform traditional anaerobic landfills into a biologically stable state (Erses et al., 2008), while the aeration process was really complex due to the heterogeneous of waste and the disposal years, especially for the wastes with high organic matters, water contents and low-value materials (Zhao and Lou, 2016).
Forced aeration was one of the potential manual interventions for the acceleration of landfill stabilization (Ritzkowski and Stegmann, 2012), and has been applied in many landfills, such as Kuhstedt Landfill (Ritzkowski et al., 2016) and Milmersdorf Landfill (Gamperling et al., 2011) in Germany, Mannersdorf Landfill (Hrad and Huber-Humer, 2017) in Austria, and Columbia Landfill and Live Oak landfill (Read et al., 2001) in the United States. Heishitou Landfill in China also tested the aerobic bioreactor in 2009 (Han et al., 2016). The operation processes were totally different and mainly relied on their operation experiences, since the disposal years, the waste composition and even the landfill locations, all of them will influence the selection of the aeration volume, the layout of the aeration pipes. The Modena landfill with 20 years closure was treated for 6 months at an aeration rate of 0.02 L/kg DM/day in Italy, and the respiration index of the waste was only 33% of the initial value (Raga et al., 2015). The same aeration rate of 0.08 L/kg DM/day was applied for two different landfills of Black Stone Landfill and Jinkou Landfill in China, with the average disposal period of 12 and 18 years, the OM content decreased from 18.5–6.2% in the previous after two years’ operation, while that in the Jinkou Landfill decreased from 12.4–9.1% after one-year aeration (Liu et al., 2018). It is necessary to establish the relationship between the landfill properties, the aeration conditions, and the disposal ages for the aeration process.
The degradation processes could be regarded as large-scale composting for landfill aeration, to create an aerobic environment in a heap through aeration (Ritzkowski and Stegmann, 2012; Nanda and Berruti, 2020), and some fresh wastes or waste models were simulated to reflect the aerobic aeration in various countries (Hashisho and El-Fadel, 2014), including the aeration frequency (Nag et al., 2016), aeration rate (Slezak et al., 2010), leachate re-circulation frequency (Luo et al., 2019), compaction density (Qiu et al., 2019), and exogenous aerobic bacteria (Ge et al., 2016). It is no doubt to find that all of these results were different or even conflict, and there were still some gaps for the practical landfill reclamation projects, since almost all of the aeration should be implemented in landfills disposed of several years, instead of fresh waste. The wastes of different ages (we called aged refuses here, ARs) should be used to simulate the landfill reclamation to identify the potential operation conditions for aerobic remediation of landfills. Meanwhile, the generation parameters of the landfill stabilization process, such as leachate properties, landfill gas composition, and waste compositions have been used to reflect the degradation of fresh waste (Rooker, 2000). Some special index should be employed for the aged refuses, which contains more humus-like matters.
In this work, ARs with 1, 4, 7, 10, and 13 years were collected from a working landfill, which has been well recorded during the landfill stabilization process. The landfill remediation was simulated with the forced aeration rate under the same operation conditions, and the variations of AR compositions were analyzed to identify the degradation process. The primary purpose was to qualify the acceleration stabilization process with the forced aeration and AR properties and explore the degradation mechanism through the analysis of the AR properties in terms of humus, cellulose/lignin ratio, and the evolution of the microorganism. The aeration efficiency between the lab-scale and field-scale landfill was compared to finally guideline the potential aeration rate selection.