Innovative 3D Landfill Modelling Reduces Time and Costs

Shannan Boyen, Research Assistant (left), Ankit Joshi, Research Assistant (second from left), Dr. Costanzo, Research Associate, University of Toronto (front centre), and Dr. Maria Jacome, Principal Investigator (right). Note: Photo taken in 2019.


Landfills have a significant impact on public health and safety, which is why they require close monitoring. Conventional methods used to monitor landfill gas (LFG) and contaminated groundwater are costly and time-consuming.


Dr. Maria Jacome, Professor in Humber College’s Civil Engineering Technology program, came to Applied Research & Innovation (ARI) with a proposal to develop an alternative approach that would be faster and more cost-effective.


With the support of ARI, Dr. Jacome received an Engage grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to conduct the research. She hired two research assistants, Shannan Boyen and Ankit Joshi, students in Humber’s Civil Engineering Technology program, to help her with the project. Dr. Vincenzo Costanzo, Research Associate from the Thermal/Fluids Optimization, Modelling, and Stimulation Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto, provided his expertise in modelling LFG and groundwater migration.


In collaboration with the industry partner, DGI Geoscience Inc., they successfully developed a new alternative that is a fast and cost-effective means of obtaining 3D models of landfills. This novel approach simulates the behaviour of the landfill and defines the interaction between LFG and the migration and accumulation of contaminated groundwater.


The research site was located in southern Ontario, about 120 kilometres north of Toronto . “This region has [some] of the purest and [most] pristine groundwater in the world. In addition, most of its landfills were developed 20 to 30 years ago and it could be possible that they had some contamination issues” said Dr. Jacome.


Throughout the different stages of the project, ARI assisted, particularly in legal matters, such as getting access to the landfill which enabled Dr. Jacome and her team to focus on their field research.


“I learned a great deal about the environmental and geotechnical side of civil engineering,” said Ankit. Shannan and Ankit were able to apply their in-class knowledge out in the field and gain valuable experience. “Going out to the landfill and conducting geoelectrical surveying, and executing the actual test is a hands-on experience that cannot be matched. Maria and Vincenzo gave us a wealth of knowledge and guidance. It was truly excellent,” added Shannan.


Dr. Jacome is currently working on compiling the research results and is writing an article for publication in a scientific journal.  She also plans to work with ARI to submit a phase two proposal to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) involving a more extensive three-year research project and to expand the project to another landfill sites.