Quantification of N and C cycling during aerobic composting, including automated direct measurement of N-2, N2O, NO, NH3, CO2 and CH4 emissions

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Cao, Y., Wang, X., Misselbrook, T. H., Wang, R., Zheng, X. and Ma, L. 2023. Quantification of N and C cycling during aerobic composting, including automated direct measurement of N-2, N2O, NO, NH3, CO2 and CH4 emissions. Science of the Total Environment. 857 (2), p. 159177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159177

AuthorsCao, Y., Wang, X., Misselbrook, T. H., Wang, R., Zheng, X. and Ma, L.
Abstract

Closing the carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) balance has yet to be achieved in aerobic bioprocess due to current methodological drawbacks in the frequency of sampling and detection and the challenge in direct measurement of instantaneous N-2 emission. To address this issue, a novel system was developed enabling simultaneous and online determination of gaseous C and N species (N-2, N2O, NO, NH3, CO2 and CH4) from aerobic composting at a high frequency of 120 times center dot d(-1). A helium-oxygen gas mixture was used to replace the air in the system to enable direct measurement of N-2 emission, and three different gas exchange methods were assessed in their ability to minimize atmospheric background N-2: 1) the N-2-free gas purging method; 2) one cycle of the evacuation-refilling procedure; 3) one cycle of evacuating and refilling followed by N-2-free gas purging. Method 3 was demonstrated as an optimumN(2)-removal method, and background N-2 concentrations decreased to similar to 66 mu mol center dot mol(-1) within 11.6 h. During the N-2-free gas purging period, low temperature incubation at 15 degrees C reduced CO2, CH4, NO, N2O and NH3 losses by 80.5 %, 41-fold, 10-fold, 11,403-fold and 61.4 %, respectively, compared with incubation at 30 degrees C. Therefore, a fast and low-perturbation N-2 removal method was developed, namely the evacuating/refilling-low temperature purging method. Notably, all C and N gases exhibited large within-day variations during the peak emission period, which can be addressed by high-frequency measurement. Based on the developed method, up to 97.8 % of gaseous C and 95.6 % of gaseous N losses were quantified over a 43-day compost incubation, with N-2 emission accounting (on average) for 5.8% of the initial total N. This system for high frequency measurement of multiple gases (including N-2) provides a novel tool for obtaining a deeper understanding of C andN turnover andmore accurate estimation of reactive N and greenhouse gas emissions during composting.

KeywordsAerobic composting; High-frequency measurement; Online measurement; Gas pollution; N-2 measurement
Year of Publication2023
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Journal citation857 (2), p. 159177
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159177
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeSoils to Nutrition
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online03 Oct 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted28 Sep 2022
PublisherElsevier Science Bv
ISSN0048-9697

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