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Environ Technol. 2003 Jun;24(6):745-54.

Greenhouse gas emissions from mechanical and biological waste treatment of municipal waste.

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University of Bonn, Karlrobert-Kreiten-Strasse 13, Institute of Plant Nutrition, D-53115 Bonn, Germany.


The mechanical and biological waste treatment (MBT) is an increasingly important technology for the treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW) before landfilling. This process includes composting of the material with intensive aeration in order to minimize the organic fraction that may induce methane and leachate emissions after landfilling. The exhaust air is treated by biofilters to remove odorous and volatile organic compounds. The emission of direct and indirect greenhouse gases, namely methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia (NH3), nitric (NO) and nitrous oxide (N2O) was studied in four existing treatment plants. All gases except NO were emitted from the composting material. The emission factors were 12 to 185 kg ton(-1) substrate for CO2, 6-12 x 10(3) g ton(-1) substrate for CH4, 1.44 to 378 g ton(-1) substrate for N2O and 18-1150 g ton(-1) for NH3. In general, emission factors increased with increasing treatment time. The biofilters had no net effect on CH4, but removed 13-89% of the NH3. For CO2 the biofilters were a small, for N2O a major and for NO the exclusive source. Approximately 26% of the NH3-N that was removed in the biofilter was transformed into N2O when NH3 was the exclusive nitrogen source. Assuming that all municipal waste was treated by MBT, the emissions would account for 0.3 to 5% of the N2O and for 0.1 to 3% of the CH4 emissions in Germany, respectively. Optimising aeration and removing NH3 before the exhaust gas enters the biofilter could lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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