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Landfill Liner and Cover Systems-The Geomembrane

A geomembrane is an essentially impermeable membrane used with foundation, soil, rock, earth or any other geotechnical engineering-related material as an integral part of a structure or system designed to limit the movement of liquid or gas in the system.

A large landfill showing the liner exposed on the side slopes
Fifty-six acre landfill expansion project showing the
upper geomembrane of the liner system
exposed on the side slopes.

Geomembrane Liner Application in a large landfill
Application of a geo-
membrane liner above
a low permeability clay
Geomembrane Liner Seaming tool ans a finished seam
Geomembrane liner
seams are sealed in the
field with a high temperature
"wedge weld."
Geomembrane Liner Testing tool on top of a seam
Vacuum testing one of
several ways that seams
between geo-membrane
panels are tested.
A liner is being put on top of another liner
A leachate collection layer
is placed above the geo-

The selection of a particular geomembrane polymer in a landfill liner system or cover system is a task for the landfill design engineer. One of the factors that the design engineer must consider is the projected service life of the particular geomembrane polymer selected, as the service life of different geomembrane polymers can vary widely. Other factors to consider are typical mechanical properties to help ensure veneer stability as well as the durability of the geomembrane.

The geomembrane used in the landfill liner systems must be 60 mils (0.06 inches) thick and must be made of a material (such as high density polyethylene (HDPE)) that is extremely low in permeability. The material must also have chemical and physical characteristics that are not adversely affected by the placement of waste or by contact with leachate.

Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) are materials typically specified for geomembranes in solid waste landfill cover systems. A geomembrane barrier used in landfill final cover system must be a minimum of 40 mils thick if comprised of LLDPE or a minimum of 60 mils thick if it is comprised of HDPE. The 60 mils minimum thickness for HDPE geomembranes is to achieve proper field seams.

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