Results of investigations from many old landfills in Germany and Europe indicate that significant emissions occur under conventional landfill operating conditions (i.e., anaerobic conditions). Significant emissions via the gas phase are predicted to last at least three decades after landfill closure, while leachate emissions are predicted to continue for many decades, potentially even lasting for centuries. When considering the specific type and quality, and quite often lack of, protection barriers associated with old landfills, these leachate and gas emissions may result in a significant negative impact on the environment. However, complete sealing of the landfill only temporarily reduces emissions because dry-conservation of the biodegradable waste fraction results, thus not allowing any severe reduction in the emission and hazardous potential of the landfill to occur. If noticeable damage of the surface capping system occurred in these landfills, infiltrating water would restart the interrupted emission formation. In contrast, aerobic in situ stabilization by means of low pressure aeration attempts to stabilize and modify the inventory of organic matter inside the landfill, acting to reduce the emission potential in a more sustainable manner. By enabling faster and more extensive aerobic degradation processes in the landfill (compared with anaerobic processes), the organics (e.g., hydrocarbons) are degraded significantly faster, resulting in an increased carbon discharge via the gas phase, as well as reduced leachate concentrations. Because carbon dioxide (CO(2)) is the main compound in the extracted off-gas (instead of methane (CH(4)), which dominated under anaerobic landfill conditions), the negative impact of diffuse LFG emissions towards an increased global warming effect may be significantly lowered. With respect to leachate quality, a reduction of organic compounds as well as ammonia-nitrogen can be expected. In addition to these positive ecological effects, aerobic in situ stabilization is associated with significant cost savings potential due to both quantitative and qualitative reductions in the aftercare period. This paper describes the fundamental processes and implications of in situ landfill aeration. Additionally, possible criteria for defining an endpoint of the active aeration process are presented and discussed.

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