Monitoring the biological activity of the composting process: Oxygen uptake rate (OUR), respirometric index (RI), and respiratory quotient (RQ)

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Abstract

Composting of several organic wastes of different chemical composition (source-separated organic fraction of municipal solid waste, dewatered raw sludge, dewatered anaerobically digested sludge and paper sludge) was carried out under controlled conditions to study the suitability of different biological indexes (oxygen uptake rate, respirometric index, and respiratory quotient) to monitor the biological activity of the composting process. Among the indexes tested, oxygen uptake rate (also referred to as dynamic respirometric index) provided the most reliable values of microbial activity in a compost environment. On the other hand, values of the static respirometric index measured at process temperature, especially in the early stages of the composting process, were significantly lower than those of the dynamic index, which was probably due to oxygen diffusion limitations present in static systems. Both static and dynamic indexes were similar during the maturation phase. Static respirometric index measured at 37°C should not be used with samples obtained during the thermophilic phase, since it resulted in an underestimation of the respiration values. Respiratory quotient presented only slight variations when changing the process temperature or the waste considered, and its use should be restricted to ensure aerobic conditions in the composting matrix. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-527
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Volume88
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2004

Keywords

  • Biological activity
  • Composting
  • Organic wastes
  • Oxygen uptake rate (OUR)
  • Respiratory quotient (RQ)
  • Respirometric index (RI)

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