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Bioresour Technol. 2013 Nov;147:17-22. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2013.07.060. Epub 2013 Jul 20.

Nitrogen conservation and acidity control during food wastes composting through struvite formation.

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  • 1Sino-Forest Applied Research Centre for Pearl River Delta Environment and Department of Biology, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China.


One of the main problems of food waste composting is the intensive acidification due to initial rapid fermentation that retards decomposition efficiency. Lime addition overcame this problem, but resulted in significant loss of nitrogen as ammonia that reduces the nutrient contents of composts. Therefore, this study investigated the feasibility of struvite formation as a strategy to control pH and reduce nitrogen loss during food waste composting. MgO and K2HPO4 were added to food waste in different molar ratios (P1, 1:1; P2, 1:2), and composted in 20-L composters. Results indicate that K2HPO4 buffered the pH in treatment P2 besides supplementing phosphate into the compost. In P2, organic decomposition reached 64% while the formation of struvite effectively reduced the nitrogen loss from 40.8% to 23.3% during composting. However, electrical conductivity of the compost increased due to the addition of Mg and P salts that requires further investigation to improve this technology.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Ammonia; Food waste composting; Nitrogen conservation; Struvite

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