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Anaerobic solubilisation of nitrogen from municipal solid waste (MSW)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalReviews in Environmental Science and Bio-Technology
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

This paper reviews anaerobic solubilisation of nitrogen municipal solid waste (MSW) and the effect of current waste management practises on nitrogen release. The production and use of synthetically fixed nitrogen fertiliser in food production has more than doubled the flow of excessive nitrogenous material into the community and hence into the waste disposal system. This imbalance in the global nitrogen cycle has led to uncontrolled nitrogen emissions into the atmosphere and water systems. The nitrogen content of MSW is up to 4.0% of total solids (TS) and the proteins in MSW have a lower rate of degradation than cellulose. The proteins are hydrolysed through multiple stages into amino acids that are further fermented into volatile fatty acids, carbon dioxides, hydrogen gas, ammonium and reduced sulphur. Anaerobic digestion of MSW putrescibles could solubilise around 50% of the nitrogen. Thus, the anaerobic digestion of putrescibles may become an important method of increasing the rate of nitrogen recycling back to the ecosystem. A large proportion of the nitrogen in MSW continues to end up in landfills; for example, in the EU countries around 2 million tonnes of nitrogen is disposed of annually this way. Nitrogen concentration in the leachates of existing landfills are likely to remain at a high level for decades to come. Under present waste management practices with a relatively low level of efficiency in the source segregation or mechanical sorting of putrescibles from grey waste and with a low level of control over landfill operating procedures, nitrogen solubilisation from landfilled waste will take at least a century.

Keywords

  • Ammonia, Anaerobic digestion, Hydrolysis, Landfill, Leachate, Municipal solid waste, Nitrogen, Waste management