back to article Boffins put supercomputer on the scent of a perfect landfill deodorizer

Anyone who’s driven by a landfill is all too aware of the stinky consequences of our lifestyles. And while waste management experts have got pretty good at masking these noxious scents, usually by burying them under a many feet of earth, that’s not always practical or applicable to other odorous industries, such as sewer …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    So basically...

    they're trying to hide their noxious effusions with even more effusions of unknown noxiousness and unknown mix?

    All smells a bit fishy to me.

    1. RedeemRed

      Re: So basically...

      Maybe you can get your hands on a supercomputer too - so you can get your own personalised mix of chemicals to get rid of the fishy smell.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Sometimes you don't need a high-tech solution.

    I use red wigglers. Garbage doesn't stand a chance against the onslaught of the voracious little critters. Cuts the smell completely, and if you're at least somewhat careful about what you feed 'em, the end result is some of the best compost you've ever seen. Yard waste. kitchen waste. manure, scrap paper, ... basically, if it's organic they will process it for you. And they are self-sustaining, too ... I got my first wigglers from a bait shop around 40 years ago, and I have never had to purchase them again.

    You might have to bring a handful indoors over the winter, depending on climate ... Many outdoor stores sell "worm composters" for indoor use, but you can make your own with three 5 gallon buckets. Use your favorite search engine, look for "vermicomposting".

    When done right it doesn't stink ... but the liquid in the bottom bucket can go off if you don't empty it every few days ... feed it to your garden. Flowers, veggies, fruit and nut trees, they all benefit from it.

    The concept scales nicely into the tons of garbage per day range and beyond.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes you don't need a high-tech solution.

      I've heard of others using those worms not just for fishing bait but also as garbage eaters. It's not a high tech solution which may explain why it's not been tried at scale. Non-high tech might also explain the downvote you received.

  3. b0llchit Silver badge

    Perpetual stink address challenging societal or environmental issues that directly impact people’s lives...

    And a smelly landfill is, of course, the first thing to hide in a fresh and pleasant natural nose pleaser.

    Wouldn't it make sense to prevent the stinky to happen? Maybe not dumping stuff in huge mountains of crap? How about that new idea of a circular system of production and consumption? Oh, I get it, that would actually solve the problem instead of hiding it under a new cover of nice smelling chemicals causing new problems along the road which we will solve using more chemicals and profit.

  4. Tubz Bronze badge

    Smells like science stuff to me or plain garbage.

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Wow! I'd never have guessed...

    '“The results of this study reveal that the effectiveness of an odor neutralizer is dependent on its molecular components and their diffusion rates over time,” the authors wrote.'.

    Do you really need a supercomputer to tell you that?

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Wow! I'd never have guessed...

      You need... CHEESEOID!*

      *(as long as your garbage only smells of cheese or "petril")

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm wondering if they'll flog me a bottle for business meetings. Whoever couples it with some natural language processing and a Teams diffuser will be an overnight billionaire! xD

  7. Piro Silver badge

    Waste to energy

    Why not incinerate that which cannot be recycled, use the heat to generate electricity. Remaining unused heat could be used in district heating. If it's organic matter, in to a digester tank with it, and capture the gasses to burn to, once again, generate electricity.

    Then there's not a lot left that could smell...

    Covering up the smell of rotting stuff that could be better used seems like a fig leaf over the problem.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Waste to energy

      In Switzerland they incinerate waste and claim it's recycling... A lot of the stuff I chuck away here would have been properly recycled back in the UK...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Waste to energy

        Didn't the UK at one point 'recycle' by shipping huge amounts overseas without bothering to check what then happened to it and then proudly proclaimed 'ain't we good'?

        1. Piro Silver badge

          Re: Waste to energy


          I think that still happens. From time to time someone does an investigation by leaving a GPS tracker in a pile of recyclables, to find they end up in some village in Africa or China.

      2. Piro Silver badge

        Re: Waste to energy

        @Korev - Yeah, and that I disagree with. Reduce, reuse, recycle, of course, but then the step after that shouldn't primarily be landfill, especially as leaving open rotting pits of rubbish generates far more in the way of harmful gasses than incinerating the stuff before it has a chance to rot.

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Waste to energy

      Careful now. It's a great idea, meaning it will tweak ecoloon sensibilities because burning stuff creates CO2. Even though widespread implementations could help reduce fossil fuel dependencies, reduce our energy bills, and help the transition to a low/no-carbon energy infrastructure.

  8. VeganVegan


    Garbage in, garbage out.

    And I’m not referring to the waste dump.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "To neutralize the stench, several deodorizing chemicals are used"

    Mainly 'Lynx'

    For some reason I've always associated the overpowering stench of 'Lynx' with that powder you used to be able to get for deodorising dustbins

    (my brother used to cover himself with the stuff! Not sure about the Lynx though...)

  10. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Can it work for muck spreading?

    As it is "that time of the year again" and some of the incomers who recently moved into their shiny new build houses have just realised that, yes, this is a genuine rural area and yes, it does smell like that. Every year.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Can it work for muck spreading?

      There is a largish strawberry farm just south-west of the little town of Sonoma, California. It's on the north-east corner of Arnold Drive and Watmaugh Road. Every year around mid November, the fields get their fall feeding, so the fruit gets off to a good start in the spring. The prevailing winds off the Bay every afternoon drive the lovely scent of fermenting liquid steer shit directly into Sonoma Plaza, home of many high-end wine tasting establishments. Needless to say, the (mostly) city-folk tourists wandering about are often heard to exclaim "What IS that SMELL?" ... to which most of us locals take great delight in asking "Remember those strawberries you had for breakfast?" ...

  11. tiggity Silver badge


    I don't want the smell of that (or anything) hiding

    If its around I want to be aware of it so I can keep away from it (as much as possible) as its not the healthiest thing to inhale at high concentration.

    I walk in the UK countryside a lot, if slurry has been sprayed on fields I want to be able to smell it (then I can avoid walking there - don't want to be walking on "masked" slurry and potentially bringing a host of microbial nasties back on my boots to spread around the house as I live with old, unwell relative so try & take precautions)

    ... Theres a reason SOME smells trigger a big response in people, its because they are potentially nasty.

    .. obv some smells also elicit a big response at low concentrations but are not potentially dangerous - human body not perfect in scent threat detection (or anything)

  12. Blackjack Silver badge

    I guess you can't just use Incense sticks on this, right?

    1. Spherical Cow

      You can, you just need the right combination of incense sticks in the right proportions, which is what they are calculating.

  13. Captain_Cretin

    Fingers Crossed...

    I am hoping what they come up with is better than the solution used a few decades ago by a major UK water company; they used "perfume" sprayers.

    Except the "perfume" turned out to cause cancer.

    Despite this, they kept using them, just telling on-site workers to hold their breath when the sprayers went off.

    (That would be me).

    For all I know, they STILL use them.

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