Impact of compost process conditions on organic micro pollutant degradation during full scale composting

Yumna Sadef*, Tjalfe Gorm Poulsen, Kai Bester

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge about the effects of oxygen concentration, nutrient availability and moisture content on removal of organic micro-pollutants during aerobic composting is at present very limited. Impact of oxygen concentration, readily available nitrogen content (NH4+, NO3-), and moisture content on biological transformation of 15 key organic micro-pollutants during composting, was therefore investigated using bench-scale degradation experiments based on non-sterile compost samples, collected at full-scale composting facilities. In addition, the adequacy of bench-scale composting experiments for representing full-scale composting conditions, was investigated using micro-pollutant concentration measurements from both bench- and full-scale composting experiments. Results showed that lack of oxygen generally prevented transformation of organic micro-pollutants. Increasing readily available nitrogen content from about 50mg N per 100g compost to about 140mg N per 100g compost actually reduced micro-pollutant transformation, while changes in compost moisture content from 50% to 20% by weight, only had minor influence on micro-pollutant transformation. First-order micro-pollutant degradation rates for 13 organic micro-pollutants were calculated using data from both full- and bench-scale experiments. First-order degradation coefficients for both types of experiments were similar and ranged from 0.02 to 0.03d-1 on average, indicating that if a proper sampling strategy is employed, bench-scale experiments can be used to represent full-scale composting conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Bench-scale experiment
  • Biodegradation
  • Full-scale experiment
  • Moisture content
  • Nitrogen content
  • Oxygen concentration


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