Design and performance of a simulated feedstock for composting experiments

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Courtesy of BioCycle Magazine

This paper reviews the composition and performance of simulated feedstock mixtures previously employed in composting research, and presents a new simulated feedstock. The new feedstock was prepared using readily available dry ingredients - ostrich feed pellets, office paper, finished compost and woodchips - representing the substrate, amendment, seed, and bulking agent components of a composting mixture respectively. The design criteria chosen were a) a substrate plus amendment C:N ratio of 30:1, b) an energy ratio of > 800 cal/g-H2O, c) a water ratio of < 8 g-H2O/g-BVS, d) a wet bulk density of < 600 kg/m3 and e) a moisture content of 60% (w/w). Resultant final proportions of the substrate:amendment:seed:bulking-agent:added-water mix were 0.071:0.098:0.009:0.267:0.555 (w/w). When composted in a controlled temperature difference (CTD), forced-aeration reactor operated with condensate return, the mixture was shown to self-heat rapidly and remain at realistic temperatures for extended periods. Thermophilic temperatures were reached within 22-33 h of start-up, following lag periods of 13-22 h, and maintained for up to 34 d. Final compost characteristics were consistent with a normal composting process. It is suggested that future variations in the simulated feedstock composition could be made, and proposed that use of this type of feedstock would facilitate future experimental work associated with composting kinetics and temperature profile modeling.

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