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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Greenhouse gas emission from covered windrow composting with controlled ventilation

Ermolaev Evgheni, Pell Mikael, Smårs Sven, Sundberg Cecilia, Jönsson Håkan


Data on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from full-scale composting of municipal solid waste, investigating the effects of process temperature and aeration combinations, is scarce. Oxygen availability affects the composition of gases emitted during composting. In the present study, two experiments with three covered windrows were set up, treating a mixture of source separated biodegradable municipal solid waste (MSW) fractions from Uppsala, Sweden, and structural amendment (woodchips, garden waste and re-used compost) in the volume proportion 1:2. The effects of different aeration and temperature settings on the emission of methane (CH₄), nitrous oxide (N₂O) and carbon dioxide (CO₂) during windrow composting with forced aeration following three different control schemes were studied. For one windrow, the controller was set to keep the temperature below 40 °C until the pH increased, another windrow had minimal aeration at the beginning of the process and the third one had constant aeration. In the first experiment, CH₄ concentrations (CH₄:CO₂ ratio) increased, from around 0.1% initially to between 1 and 2% in all windrows. In the second experiment, the initial concentrations of CH₄ displayed similar patterns of increase between windrows until day 12, when concentration peaked at 3 and 6%, respectively, in two of the windrows. In general, the N₂O fluxes remained low (0.46 ± 0.02 ppm) in the experiments and were two to three times the ambient concentrations. In conclusion, the emissions of CH₄ and N₂O were low regardless of the amount of ventilation. The data indicates a need to perform longer experiments in order to observe further emission dynamics


Composting; greenhouse gases; methane; mechanical–biological treatment; nitrous oxide; temperature; ventilation

Published in

Waste Management and Research
2012, Volume: 30, number: 2, pages: 155-160