Co-composting of paper mill sludge and hardwood sawdust under two types of in-vessel processes.

Journal of environmental science and health. Part. B, Pesticides, food contaminants, and agricultural wastes

PubMedID: 15022747

Dinel H, Marche T, Schnitzer M, Paré T, Champagne P. Co-composting of paper mill sludge and hardwood sawdust under two types of in-vessel processes. J Environ Sci Health B. 2004;39(1):139-51.
Recycling of organic residues by composting is becoming an acceptable practice in our society. Co-composting dewatered paper mill sludge (PMS) and hardwood sawdust, two readily available materials in Canada, was investigated using uncontrolled and controlled in-vessel processes. The composted materials were characterized for total C and N, water-soluble, acid-hydrolyzable, and non-hydrolyzable N, extractable lipids, and by Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectrophotometry. In the controlled scale process, the loss of organic matter was approximately 65% higher than in the uncontrolled process. After undergoing initial fluctuations in N fractions during the first two days of composting, by the end of the process, concentrations of water-soluble N decreased while those of acid-hydrolyzable and nonhydrolyzable N increased in the controlled process, whereas in the uncontrolled process, water-soluble N increased, but N in the other two fractions decreased continuously, indicating that the biochemical transformations of organic matter were not completed. Data on extractable lipids and FT-IR spectra suggest that the compost produced from the controlled process was bio-stable after 14 days, while the uncontrolled process was not stabilized after 18 days. In addition, FT-IR data suggest the biological activity during composting centered mainly on the degradation of aliphatic structures while aromatic structures were preserved. The co-composting of the PMS and hardwood sawdust can be successfully achieved if aeration, moisture, and bio available C/N ratios are optimized to reduce losses of N.