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This list is intended to help researchers identify potential topics for projects; however, there is no guarantee that the Center will provide funding for any proposed research project, even if the project is based on a topic that is included in this list. The decision to fund specific projects will be made by the Center, in its sole discretion, based on many factors, including but not limited to the funds available, the relevance and timeliness of the proposed topic, and other factors, as they exist at the time when the proposed project is being evaluated by the Center.

  1. What are the physical and chemical characteristics of waste cement kiln dust? Background: There are several cement production facilities in Florida. The existing published data on waste cement kiln dust (CKD) generated in the U.S. are around 15-30 years old now. Since they were published, there has been a fairly significant shift from wet process to dry process technologies, with a possible impact on the physical and chemical characteristics of waste CKD (such as particle size distribution, oxide, hydroxide and sulfur content, and trace element content). There have also been some developments in analytical chemistry that might affect quantization of trace element content. CKD was given a temporary exemption from RCRA by Congress in 1980. In 1999, EPA published "Standards for the Management of Cement Kiln Dust; Proposed Rule" (64 FR 45632). More information is available on this topic at

  2. What is the potential of treating landfill leachate using techniques that use Ultraviolet Light and Hydrogen Peroxide? How can we optimize the reduction of BOD, COD, recalcitrant organic compounds, estrogenic compounds, endocrine disrupters and color from landfill leachate using an advanced oxidation process that utilizes UV and H2O2? Background: Shortwave UV-light-emitting technologies are commonly applied for disinfection of both drinking and waste waters. Addition of a chemical oxidant/disinfectant, such as H2O2 or HOCl, prior to UV irradiation can lead to enhanced UV treatment through the formation of oxidizing free radicals. The potential for color, BOD, and COD removal from landfill leachate using UV-based advanced oxidation has been demonstrated in previous studies. However, the various reactor configurations, methods for reporting UV energy inputs, and scales of treatment in previously reported work make it difficult to assess the relative efficiency of oxygen demand and color removal using this treatment method as compared to alternative oxidation processes. EPA published new research guidelines in 2007) for UV fluence (dose) determination (a method which allows for direct comparison between UV disinfection/photolysis/oxidation studies, regardless of reactor configuration or scale). These new guidelines can be used to assess the optimum levels of chemical oxidant and UV fluence needed to meet leachate quality demands for Florida MSW landfill leachate. In addition, an analysis of the cost per liter treated, with the optimum UV and chemical oxidant conditions may be useful to Florida landfill operators considering additional treatments options for their leachate management systems.

  3. Should liners be required at construction and demolition debris disposal facilities?

  4. Can carbonaceous materials in the waste stream be cost-effectively converted into syngas or for the production of liquid biofuels?

  5. Can biomass-to-ethanol facilities be integrated into existing waste-to-energy facilities?

  6. Can treated landfill leachate be used as irrigation water? Can we develop some onsite leachate treatment systems for landfills that are cost competitive or perhaps even cheaper than the cost of hauling leachate to offsite wastewater treatment (POTW) plants? Can we develop systems that are relatively simple to operate and are not subject to the upsets that are common at small sewage treatment plants? Can we develop onsite treatment systems that do not use lots of energy or require a great deal of care or attention? Can we develop systems that are easy to operate and can be operated by landfill operators who are trained to operate heavy equipment and who do not usually have a great deal of training (or interest) in this area and also have many other responsibilities to take care of at the landfill? More and more offsite waste water treatment plants are indicating that they do not want to accept leachate from lined landfills because of the relatively high concentrations of ammonia in the leachate and the potential for upsetting their biological treatment system. POTW (Publicly Owned Treatment Works) operators can choose to not accept landfill leachate. In some cases, POTW operators are setting the fees for accepting leachate for treatment at their plants at very high rates in an effort to discourage the landfill operators from bringing leachate to them for treatment at their plant. In addition, fuel costs have risen dramatically and the prospect of continuing the hauling of leachate to distant sewage treatment plants is forcing landfill operators to consider developing onsite leachate treatment systems. The ideal onsite leachate treatment plant should be simple to operate, not be subject to biological upsets that smaller sewage treatment plants commonly undergo, not require a great deal of care, not require highly skilled operators, and not require a great deal of attention or consume a lot of energy. Are there some simple ways to remove ammonia from landfill leachate that rely on chemical or physical methods? Is there a way to remove ammonia from landfill leachate that does not rely on a biological process? Offsite sewage treatment plant operators are increasingly not wanting to accept landfill leachate with elevated levels of ammonia because of the problems that treating ammonia poses to their plants and the high energy costs of adding a high ammonia waste to the normal domestic sewage coming into their plant. In addition, some landfill operators are finding that onsite biological treatment systems are far too complicated for them to operate. They are finding that onsite biological treatment systems are far too prone to upsets and that it is very difficult to get these biological systems back online once they have become upset. Are there ways of removing ammonia from landfill leachate that do not simply transfer the ammonia from the leachate to the air or into some other environmental media? (Air stripping landfill leachate in lagoons transfers a great deal of ammonia from the leachate into the ambient air.) Are there some simple, reliable non-biological ways to remove ammonia from leachate that landfill operators with little training can employ routinely without spending a lot of time on this task?

  7. Determine the existing costs of solid waste management throughout Florida --- including collection and disposal. As part of this research, analyze how the communities pay for collection and disposal (i.e., property taxes, separate line item on property tax bills, part of, but separate line item on electric / water utility bill, special yearly assessment, etc.) and compare these costs across the state, including existing tipping or disposal fees for Class I lined landfills, Waste to Energy Facilities, and C&D facilities. (This research would be especially valuable to FDEP as it cranks up its efforts to respond, by 2010 legislative session, to this year's omnibus Energy Act that included researching the feasibility of attaining a 75% recycling / waste reduction goal by 2020 in Florida).

  8. What is the feasibility of building structures that are made of concrete that includes glass aggregate from crushed Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT)? What leaches out of the concrete while it is in service? What leaches out of the concrete after it has been taken out of service and crushed into aggregate for reuse? Should in situ testing yield positive results (that is, no harmful leaching of heavy metals occurs when CRT glass is used as aggregate in concrete products), this would be helpful to the electronics industry as they try to recycle and reuse CRT glass in this country. Recycling of CRT glass here in the United States would help avoid exporting high percentages of CRT glass products to other countries. Depending on how the waste is handled, export of CRT glass to other countries can cause environmental and public health problems there. A positive outcome of a project like this could create huge new markets for used CRT glass in the United States.

  9. Is the ambient air quality at landfills or the fugitive emissions from the working face of a landfill a hazard to the spotters, compactor operators, drivers, and other people who spend a lot of time at a working landfill? Is the air quality on the tipping floor of a transfer station or at a waste to energy plant, or at a compost production facility a health hazard to the staff that operates these facilities or the workers or the public who bring materials to these facilities? Are there biological aerosols or toxic compounds in the ambient air at waste disposal facility or a waste treatment facility that are a hazard to the staff at these facilities? This question has been raised by many solid waste professionals, waste collection vehicle operators, compactor operators, spotters and other landfill staff over the years. Is this a valid concern? What does the historical research on this topic indicate? Peer-reviewed, published research conducted by Dr. Jordan Peccia at Yale University indicates that viable biological aerosols and various airborne toxins are in the air at sites where sewage sludge is land applied. Are biological aerosols or toxic aerosols also generated when waste is handled, compacted or unloaded from waste collection vehicles? (Large compactors are very efficient at "squeezing" the air out of waste.) Are the gases and aerosols that are expelled into the air when the waste is compacted hazardous to the staff? Does the process of compacting waste generate aerosols or gases that are hazardous to the landfill or transfer station staff? What are the concentrations of mercury, hydrogen sulfide gas, volatile organic compounds, biological aerosols, toxic aerosols in the air at the working face of a landfill, a construction and demolition debris landfill, a transfer station, a Waste To Energy Plant or MSW landfills? Are these gases a hazard to staff at the landfills? Are these particles a hazard? What is the size of the aerosols at these facilities? Are they respirable? Do they reach the lung tissue?

  10. What are the air emissions from composting food waste and green waste that is composted using aerated static pile (ASP) technology? There is very little data on air emissions from composting food waste and/or green waste or various combinations of food waste and green waste and combinations of food waste, green waste and sewage sludge using ASP techniques that usually employ the use of ASPs. Most of the air emission data from ASP composting technologies/techniques was developed from the ASP composting of sewage sludge by itself (without any food waste or green waste involved) using ASPs. Interest in using ASP/ASP techniques for composting food waste and green waste is growing, however, engineers have very little air emission data on processing food waste using this approach. There is also a great deal of interest in using ASP techniques for ASP composting of food waste by itself, green waste by itself, and for composting various combinations of food waste, green waste and sewage sludge. What are the air emissions from using ASP techniques for food waste or green waste or combinations of food waste, green waste and sewage sludge? What are the air emissions from ASP approaches that do not use biofilters to clean up the air emissions? Many ASP techniques use biofilters to treat the air and remove odors and volatile compounds that are drawn out of the piles. How effective are biofilters at removing odors, volatile compounds and other air pollutants from the gases that are drawn out of the ASPs of food waste or green waste that is composted using ASP

  11. What is the potential total production of landfill gas from ALL landfills in Florida? And further, if a high percentage of this gas production was collected for energy recovery, how much electric power or other type of fuel/power could be produced on a statewide basis? What percentage of Florida's total power/fuels needs does this represent? And, what is best potential use for landfill gas capture --- on site use (producing energy for landfill equipment use or other forms of energy for use either at landfill itself or local community uses) or producing alternative energy for regional/national use (through pipelines and electric grid)? What seems to be the future for landfill gas recovery?

  12. Procurement of materials/services that are considered "green" (e.g., things like recycled paper, plastic posts for fencing, etc. etc., non-toxic cleaners, etc.). How much of this "green procurement) is actually being done by local and state government agencies, including universities, throughout Florida? Survey a cross section and representative sampling of Florida local governments and Florida agencies/universities for this information and report. An important aspect of this proposed research would be whether any local governments and/or state agencies or agencies of state have measurable data on green procurement.

  13. What are the new landfill gas cleanup technologies? What is the feasibility and the economics of removing the carbon dioxide, nitrogen gas and other impurities (siloxane, hydrogen sulfide, etc) from landfill gas to make the remaining methane pure enough for pipeline use or for use as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in vehicles? Are these technologies ready for widespread use at landfills? There is a great deal of interest in using CNG for fueling school buses as a way of avoiding the problem of exposing children to diesel exhaust emissions. Background: In recent years, various systems have been brought online in Europe and the US which convert landfill gas into CNG for use as a motor fuel or which convert landfill gas into high quality pipeline gas. One of these technologies (Pressure Swing Adsorbtion ("PSA") technology) physically separates methane gas from landfill gas and converts the landfill gas into pipeline quality natural gas. Another technology uses carbon dioxide to wash the contaminants out of landfill gas.

  14. Can we develop a new and inexpensive methodology/technique for identifying asbestos-containing asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles represents a large portion of the C&D stream. Despite being a valuable substitute for a petroleum product--asphalt, asphalt shingles are not recycled in many regions around the country. One of the main concerns associated with asphalt shingles recycling is the fact that a very small percentage of asphalt shingles entering recycling facilities may contain asbestos. Thus, some state environmental agencies have required that recycling facilities test each incoming load for asbestos. The process of submitting samples from each load to a certified lab and then holding the loads until the results are received is cumbersome and often costly. Recycling facilities need to be able to easily identify asbestos-containing asphalt shingles on site. Research is needed to determine if the physical (mass, color, etc.) or chemical properties could be easily tested to determine if the shingle is positive or negative for asbestos.

  15. How can we best estimate emissions of H2S from C & D landfills? Can we combine air dispersion modeling techniques with ambient air measurements to estimate flux rates from landfills? That is, can we utilize a Jerome meter in tandem with a GPS system to determine concentrations of H2S at numerous locations at a C&D landfill, and then using matrix methods, back-solve the dispersion equations to obtain emissions estimates? Can modern dispersion models predict future H2S concentrations around such landfills with a reasonable level of certainty?

  16. What are the risks associated with recycling drywall from building demolition and renovation? Despite representing a large portion of the C&D stream, discarded drywall is one of the C&D materials with the lowest recycling rates. In areas where recycling occurs, recycling operations only accept drywall discarded at construction sites due to asbestos, lead-based paint, and other environmental concerns. Research is needed to determine the occurrence of asbestos and lead-based paint in discarded drywall from demolition and renovation operations, especially where drywall was installed after 1978. Since the use of lead-based paint and asbestos in joint compound and spray applications were banned in 1978, the occurrence of these materials in drywall installed after 1978 should be small. No research exists to prove this is true, however. Research is needed to determine what portion of discarded renovation and demolition drywall is unable to be recycled. Concentrating and then disposing of gypsum wallboard in solid waste disposal units is perhaps a very poor solid waste management option. Under anaerobic conditions, gypsum degrades/breaks down into hydrogen sulfide gas and other volatile sulfur gases which are extremely odorous... even in very small quantities. There are many cases of outraged citizens complaining about objectionable odors coming from the neighboring landfill. According to a very experienced FDEP field staff member, in most cases (for Class I Landfills, Class III Landfills and construction and demolition (C&D) debris disposal facilities) one of the major contributors to the odor problem has been gypsum wallboard. For C&D debris disposal facilities, gypsum wallboard appears to be the only significant odor causing factor. Should Florida prohibit the disposal of gypsum wallboard in landfills?

  17. What waste disposal issues, if any, are caused by biodiesel production? What are the disposal options for these wastes? How can they be effectively managed? Background: In the production of biodiesel, two waste streams are produced that are problematic:
    - Waste glycerin that contains methanol is an ignitable hazardous waste. Regardless of its methanol content, glycerin is a very high BOD waste.
    - Waste filter media such as diatomaceous earth may spontaneously combust causing this waste filter media to potentially be designated as a "Characteristic RCRA Hazardous Waste" due to its ignitability.
    What is the best disposal or recycling option for these wastes?

  18. Are iron and other metals released from Florida soils (especially in NW Florida) as a result of (a) landfill leachate or (b) other factors? Should elevated iron levels in groundwater near landfills be addressed through (a) pump and treat programs or (b) landfill construction or operation techniques or (c) other methods?

  19. Should stormwater from a landfill with an intermediate cover be treated as stormwater or should it be treated like it is leachate? The DEP allows runoff from stabilized, intermediate soil covered outer slopes to discharge into the stormwater management system. This is acceptable in the absence of seeps. Is there data that characterizes this runoff and demonstrates that it is acceptable as stormwater? Also, seepage is common at and near the base of the slope, and often it is not obvious if the water is leachate or runoff colored from natural iron concentrated soils. Soils with iron occur throughout Florida; using these soils for daily and intermediate cover can be a partial or total contributor to the discoloration of seeps, therefore, confusing the water with leachate. A useful tool for a landfill operator would be a field method or simple lab method to distinguish between leachate and harmless high iron content runoff.
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