Aqueous Ammonia Treatment of Organic Material for Municipal Composting

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MacIntyre, Stephen Eugene

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University of Guelph


Aqueous ammonia treatment of organic material to increase enzymatic digestibility is a growing area of research for animal fodder and biofuel production. The application of this treatment in the municipal composting process has not previously been investigated. Litterbags were used to investigate the effects of an aqueous ammonia treatment prior to composting on source-separated organic waste. The treatment consisted of soaking organic material in aqueous ammonia prior to introducing the material back into the composting process. Dry mass, ash content, ash-free dry mass, and water-solubility were measured. Three experiments were performed: one in the laboratory, one in an in-vessel system, and one in windrows. The aqueous ammonia treatment removed more dry mass compared to controls; however, the results indicate that the majority of the loss occurred during the soak. This treatment may be of interest for compost facilities if the leachate produced can be used in an economically beneficial way.



aqueous ammonia, composting, pretreatment, source-separated organics, compost, ammonium hydroxide, in-vessel, windrow, dry mass, ash-free dry mass