J Chem Technol Biotechnol 2014; 89: 579–586

DOI 10.1002/jctb.4160

VOC emissions from the composting of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste using standard and advanced aeration strategies

Caterina Maulini-Duran, Belen Puyuelo, Adriana Artola, Xavier Font, Antoni Sánchez and Teresa Gea.

Abstract 

BACKGROUND: The emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC) during the composting process is mainly responsible for the odors generated in these types of waste treatment plants. In this work, VOC emissions from the source-separated organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) composting process have been investigated in 50 L pilot reactors operating under different aeration control strategies during the active decomposition stage.

RESULTS: The VOC emissions from traditional aeration control options such as oxygen feedback control or cyclic on-off aeration have been compared with VOC emissions under an oxygen uptake rate (OUR) control strategy. Total VOC emission (mg C m-3) and VOC composition (%) have been determined during the first active decomposition stage of composting. Study of VOC composition indicated a high presence of terpenes. Carcinogenic compounds, such as furans, have occasionally been found at very low concentration. Results indicate some differences in VOC composition according to the aeration strategy used.

CONCLUSION: The evolution of total VOC emissions was relatively similar, being high in the first days of the process. However, the results obtained show some differences in VOC composition depending on the aeration strategy used. The OUR controller provided a more steady emissions profile, which will help the performance of further gas treatment operations, specially biological systems.

2013 Society of Chemical Industry