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Daniel D. Adeleke

Villanova University, PhD in Geoenvironmental and Geotechnical Engineering

EREF Scholar 2023

The concern for appropriate waste disposal has been consistently growing since the last quarter of the 20th century. Minimizing the consequences of the release of harmful substances to the environment required the design of efficient waste disposal facilities. Many early liner systems only deployed natural or compacted clay liners but soon incorporated geosynthetics, resulting in the development of geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs). The success of GCL’s application has prompted the deployment of their usage in containing leachates from hazardous chemical and pharmaceutical wastes, mine tailings, coal combustion residuals, bauxite residue, and radioactive wastes. Efficient containment of these leachates has resulted in an extensive range of products with differences in bentonites, polymer-amended bentonite, geotextiles, and/or reinforcement technique and degree. This research focuses on the use of bentonite polymer composite (BPC) in GCLs production because of its advantageous hydraulic conductivity (k) performance in aggressive environments. Though issues such as polymer migration and hydrogel pore-clogging permanence raise a question about BPC-GCL’s long-term hydraulic performance in certain scenarios. On the other hand, very little is known about the effects of polymer amendment on other BPC-GCLs properties such as diffusion coefficients, and internal and interface shear strength in different field conditions. Therefore, this study aims at investigating the effects of polymer loading, type, and elution behaviour on BPC-GCL long-term hydraulic performance, diffusive behaviour, contaminant transport flux, and shear behaviour under different chemical, hydraulic, and stress conditions. This project intends to clarify the impact of polymer amendment on coupled hydraulic-mechanical-chemical (HMC) behaviour of BPC-GCLs in waste containment applications. The development of screening methods/tools for BPC-GCLs, which provides a quick, complete and reliable indication of expected performance for specific field conditions, together with the recommendation of containment conditions that optimize HMC coupled performance for specific polymer loading and type, is an expected outcome of this study.


Daniel Adeleke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Benin (2010 – 2015). During his undergraduate studies, he engaged in research projects and worked with the University’s Soil Laboratory, igniting his passion for geotechnical engineering. Daniel’s commitment to scholarly pursuits led him to the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he completed a Master’s degree in Geotechnical Engineering from 2018 to 2020. At UCT, his thesis focuses on the effect of asperities on geomembrane-geotextile shear characteristics – with application in municipal solid waste geosynthetic liner design. Through this research, he gained hands-on experience in liner design and suggested applicable recommendations aimed at increasing liner stability. At UCT Geotechnical Laboratory, Daniel conducted many geosynthetics shear tests for medium to large-scale projects across the water resources, mining, and waste management sectors within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). His role included collecting project information from clients, designing and conducting experiments, and technical report presentations. Currently, as a dedicated PhD candidate at Villanova University since Fall 2020, Daniel is immersed in advancing research focused on the application of bentonite polymer composite (BPC) in geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs) to form a more relatively impermeable barrier for containment applications in aggressive environments.