Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

W. Brent Nixon, PhD


Greater demands on landfill capacity, stricter regulations intended to minimize landfill environmental impacts, and the economic potential associated with landfill operations have shifted the emphasis of landfill disposal toward methods concerned with the long term performance and capacity of landfills. Two opposing philosophies have emerged in constructing and managing landfills: the dry tomb and the wet cell. The key to managing a landfill from the wet cell viewpoint is first understanding the biodegradation processes occurring within the landfill. This thesis attempts to determine the fundamental processes responsible for the degradation of solid waste by employing a system dynamics approach. A system dynamics model is constructed that reproduces behavior of the landfill biochemical reactor system by identifying the biodegradation processes driving basic system behavior. The model utilizes landfill gas production as the measure of landfill behavior over time. The resultant model and model simulations suggest that biodegradation is an extremely complex and dynamic process with numerous interrelationships and influences existing between the entities of the landfill system. With further development, the model may be applied by landfill managers concerned with assessing landfill performance/impact over time and optimizing controllable parameters for biodegradation.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number