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Process Biochemistry 42 (2007) 215223 www.elsevier.


Mass and thermal balance during composting of a poultry manureWood shavings mixture at different aeration rates
H.K. Ahn a,*, T.L. Richard b, H.L. Choi c
a Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA c Department of Animal Science and Technology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea b

Received 6 October 2005; received in revised form 15 July 2006; accepted 12 August 2006

Abstract Composting is an exothermic process often controlled on the basis of temperature feedback, but for which the energetics of the overall system are generally not well known. In this study, the thermal balance of a poultry manure and wood shavings mixture was estimated during composting at different aeration rates. The study was conducted using 900-l vertical cylindrical reactors at high-ow (0.390.52 L/min kg VS) and low-ow (0.070.2 L/min kg VS) aeration rates. The actual amount of evaporated water from the high-ow reactor was 3760% more than from the low-ow reactor in trials 1 and 2. The energy generated from degrading 1 g of VS of the poultry manure and wood shavings mixture was 16.8319.7 kJ/g VS. The high-ow reactors showed more VS reduction, generating 2229% more energy than low-ow reactors. The heat loss via forced convection was 5254% of the total energy produced in the high-ow reactors, but just 1721% in the low-ow reactors, where natural convection appeared to also play a signicant role. The conductive heat loss from the low-ow reactors was greater than from the highow reactors, ranging from 44 to 53% in trials 1 and 2. The radiant energy loss was higher in the low-ow reactors, but in all cases was only 5% or less of the total energy loss. Because the reactor scale and conguration will affect these thermal losses, analysis of process energetics should be a fundamental part of system design. # 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Thermal balance; Composting; Aeration rates; Convection; Conductive heat loss; Radiant energy loss

1. Introduction The efciency of an aerobic composting system is closely related to the aeration ow rate. The aeration ow rate affects microbial activity, the substrate degradation rate and temperature variation in the composting process [1,2]. Composting requires oxygen for aerobic activity, and too little aeration can lead to anaerobic conditions. However, too much aeration can lead to excessive cooling, preventing the thermophilic conditions required for optimum rates of decomposition. Between these two extremes is an optimum aeration rate, which provides sufcient oxygen for aerobic decomposition, while maintaining temperatures in the thermophilic range. Previous researchers recommended a variety of aeration rate ranges to optimize the composting process. Hong et al. [3] conducted experiments to determine the appropriate

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 515 294 4210; fax: +1 515 294 4250. E-mail address: hkahn@iastate.edu (H.K. Ahn). 1359-5113/$ see front matter # 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.procbio.2006.08.005

aeration rate by varying the aeration level from 0.04 to 3.0 L/ min kg volatile solids (VS). They recommended an optimum range of 0.871.07 L/min kg VS; with rates lower than 0.04 L/min kg VS producing anaerobic conditions for their dairy manure mixtures. Haug [2] suggested the minimum aeration rate range of 0.0950.236 L/min kg dry solids (ds) with a peak range of 1.792.27 L/min kg ds in a batch process for proper efciency. This recommended aeration rate can be converted to 0.110.28 L/min kg VS (minimum aeration rate) and 2.112.67 L/min kg VS (peak aeration rate) assuming an initial volatile solids content of 85%. Lu et al. [4] reported a ow rate of 0.430.86 L/min kg VS is more efcient than 1.743.47 L/min kg VS at maintaining conditions in the thermophilic temperature range during their food waste composting trials. Lau et al. [5] suggested a lower aeration rate of 0.040.08 L/min kg VS for swine manure composting, which would create less suitable conditions according to the previous three researchers. These variations in recommended aeration rates are expected, as aeration requirements are substrate dependent.


H.K. Ahn et al. / Process Biochemistry 42 (2007) 215223

Nonetheless, two generalizations can be made based on this previous research: (1) minimum aeration rates should be greater than 0.04 L/min kg VS; (2) peak aeration rates should be less than 3.0 L/min kg VS. Much of the energy generated through the aerobic biodegradation of organic materials in the composting process is lost as heat [6]. Temperature is one of the most important factors in maintaining a proper composting system. The estimation of the thermal balance in the composting process is important in understanding bioreactor dynamics and providing proper temperature control. Investigations of optimal operational factors and proper control of the composting process have been reported by several researchers [2,710], but studies investigating the thermal balance of this process are rare. The few previous studies that have examined composting energy dynamics demonstrated the importance of reactor conguration and scale. Bach et al. [11] estimated the heat loss in several different types of composting systems. In their laboratory-scale bioreactor the wall conduction was the largest heat loss (62%), while the major heat loss in commercial-scale reactors was from water evaporation (7586%). Robinzon et al. [12] conducted an energy and mass balance of windrow type composting system. The heat removal due to water evaporation (about 70%) was the largest heat removal source, radiation (about 20%) was the second, and convection (about 10%) was the rest. The vapor pressure gradient required for these large evaporation losses depend on convective air movement, so one would expect aeration rate would play a critical role in the energy dynamics of any particular conguration. Analyzing the thermal balance with a range of aeration rates would thus prove useful in designing and operating a composting system efciently and controlling heat loss. The present study was carried out to examine the mass and energy balance under two different aeration rates, which were

set to maintain oxygen levels in exhaust air above 10 and 15%. The study included a mass balance analysis, and examined the inuence of several factors that can apply to such analysis of lab and pilot-scale reactors but are often ignored. These mass balance results were used to estimate the caloric value of the wood shaving and poultry manure mixture during the composting process, which along with airow rates and process conditions was used to complete a thermal balance on the system. This analysis provides the basis for recommending a practical aeration strategy which can improve biodegradation and minimize the energy input required for aeration.
2. Materials and methods 2.1. Composting apparatus
The reactor vessels used in this experiment are shown in Fig. 1. The two 900-l cylindrical reactors were constructed of double-wall insulated polyurethane. Each reactor is equipped with a vertical electric auger to mix material and includes a perforated plastic oor, below which is a shallow plenum to collect leachate and exhaust air. Negative aeration was applied to each reactor in downdraft mode. The blower was tted with a 5 cm diameter exhaust pipe, connected to the bottom of the reactor. A condenser installed in the exhaust system collected a fraction of the water vapor before it reached the blower. Each reactor and condenser sat on separate platform scales to allow direct and independent measurements of compost and water masses during the composting period.

2.2. Experimental design

Two 30-day replicated trials were run under each of two different aeration rates to estimate the inuence of aeration on composting process energetics. Poultry manure and wood shavings were mixed to adjust the initial moisture contents to about 62% in both trials (Table 1). The aeration rate was controlled as described in Table 2. The two treatments were designated high-ow (0.390.52 L/ min kg VS) and low-ow (0.070.2 L/min kg VS) according to aeration rate. Oxygen concentration in the exhaust air was used as the key factor in setting the aeration rate in this study. Suler and Finstein [13] recommended that the appropriate oxygen concentration in the exhaust air should be in the range of 1018%. The aeration rate of high-ow was set to keep oxygen concentrations above 15% and low-ow was set to maintain oxygen concentrations above 10% (Figs. 8 and 9). Moisture content of the high-ow reactor was adjusted articially

Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of composting reactor.

H.K. Ahn et al. / Process Biochemistry 42 (2007) 215223 Table 1 Quantity and characteristics of feedstock Weight (kg) Trial 1 High-ow MC Poultry manure Wood Shavings Water Total
* ** *


Trial 2 Low-ow VS

High-ow VS

Low-ow VS

C/N ratio 3.7 250.5 5.9


C/N ratio 3.7 250.5 5.6


C/N ratio 4.8 165.0 8.5

MC* 64.65 9.66 100 62.44

VS** 60.35 99.51 73.23

C/N ratio 4.8 165.0 8.2

195.5 40 40 275.5

65.28 10.19 100 62.04

59.31 99.35 72.91

65.28 10.19 100 62.12

59.31 99.35 73.79

64.65 9.66 100 61.96

60.35 99.51 73.76

Moisture content. Volatile solids.

Table 2 Operating strategies High-ow Aeration Water added to reactor Turning and mixing Experimental duration 0.46 0.07 L/min kg VS (initial) 40 kg on day 12 Everyday (10 min/day) 30 days Low-ow 0.14 0.07 L/min kg VS (initial)

Water was added to high-ow reactor on day 12 to adjust the moisture contents of the mixtures (MC of high-ow reactor mixtures on day 12trial 1: 40.45% ! 59.04%; trial 2: 46.67% ! 61.7%).

by adding 40 kg water on the 12th day of each trial to maintain adequate moisture in the compost. Augers were operated for 10 min each day, during which time the auger was manually rotated around the reactor allowing complete mixing of all but the wall edges and bottom of the reactor (these unmixed areas will be referred to as the dead zone). Three replicate compost samples were collected daily right after mixing the contents of each reactor, with the mass of each sample measured to evaluate the losses from sampling. The leachate from compost reactor was checked daily, collected and weighed whenever signicant accumulation occurred. The materials in the dead zone usually compose a hard layer which still keeps its shape after pouring out the well-mixed interior contents. The thickness of the bottom and wall dead zones were measured and used for volume calculations. Samples from the dead zones were collected and weighted after measuring their thicknesses. Finally, their densities were determined by using both factors.

2.4. Theoretical calculations

Haug [2] suggested three distinct mechanisms of heat or energy transfer in composting processes: conduction, convection, and radiation. The thermal balance of the composting reactor can be described by the following equation: qa qg qw qc qr (1)

2.3. Measurement and analysis

The temperature inside each reactor was measured using 15 type-T thermocouples. These thermocouples were mounted at ve depths on each of three plastic rods. The three plastic rods were evenly spaced within the reactor. A relative humidity sensor (Model HMP35C, Campbell Scientic Inc., Utah, USA) mounted on the exhaust pipe to determine the amount of water vaporization and convective energy loss in the exhaust after the condenser. Oxygen concentration was measured using an oxygen sensor (Model BEM 300 with the BEP103 probe, NeuwGhent Technology, NY, USA). Aeration rate was measured using a gas mass ow meter (model HFM-200, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Hasting Instruments, Hampton, VA, USA). All temperature, relative humidity, oxygen concentration, and air ow rate data were collected every 15 min by a programmed data acquisition and control system (Labview Software, NI). All samples, including mixed compost, dead zone compost, and leachate, were analyzed for moisture content, volatile solids, and caloric value. Moisture content, volatile solids (VS) and ash were measured on a daily basis. Caloric value was measured every 3 days during each 30-day experiment. Moisture content was determined by oven drying at 105 8C for 24 h, and volatile solids was calculated after igniting the dried sample in a mufe furnace at 550 8C for 8 h. Caloric value was determined by the bomb calorimeter (Parr Instruments, Model 1241, Moline, IL, USA).

where qa is the accumulated energy, qg the generated energy by biodegradation (kJ day1), qw the conductive heat loss from wall of the reactor (kJ day1), qc the convective heat loss (kJ day1) and qr is the radiant energy loss from the top surface of the compost (kJ day1). Conductive transfer is dened as the heat transfer between two different temperature points without movement of any mass between the points [2]. For qw, the heat loss from the reactor walls, bottom, and cover, this can be written qw UAT r T a


where A is the reactor wall surface area (m ), U the overall coefcient of heat transmittance (kJ day1 m2 8C1), Tr the reactor temperature (8C) and Ta is the atmospheric temperature (8C). For well insulated reactor walls, radial temperature gradients within the compost are small relative to differences across the walls, so compost temperature gradients near the edge of the wall can be neglected. Convection includes the transfer of heat by uids, which can include liquids and gases. There are two kinds of convection: free and forced. Free convection is common in windrow systems, while forced convection is used in aerated static piles and many in-vessel systems [14,2]. The term qc represents the convective heat loss. Calculations were made using the psychometric equations given in [15]. qc Qa hout hin


where Qa is the airow (kg dry air day ), hout the enthalpy of the exhaust air (kJ kg dry air1) and hin is the enthalpy of the inlet air (kJ kg dry air1). Radiation is the mechanism of heat transfer whereby energy is emitted due to an objects temperature. Radiant energy does not depend on direct physical contact or the movement of any uid between the different temperature objects. Because the temperature of a composting reactor is typically greater than that of


H.K. Ahn et al. / Process Biochemistry 42 (2007) 215223

the surroundings, some radiative losses can be expected from the surface [2]. The term qr represents the radiant energy loss, kJ day1.
4 4 Th F a F e qr s ATc
11 2 4


where s is the StefanBoltzmann constant, 5.67 10 kJ/(s m K ), A the surface area of the radiating body, F a the a conguration factor to account for the relative position and geometry of the objects (dimensionless), F e the emissivity factor to account for non-black body radiation (assumed as 0.85wood emissivity [16]), Tc the temperature of the compost top surface (K) and Th is the temperature of the headspace between compost top surface and reactor lid (K). In this reactor system, the primary radiation loss is from the top surface, since wall losses are accounted for in the conductive term, while bottom losses are mostly transferred to convective airow. To address the top surface radiation loss, a conguration factor F a was calculated using Eqs. (5) and (6), which describe radiative heat transfer from a disk to a parallel coaxial disk of the same radius [17,18].
2 Fa 1 2fX X 4 1=2

(5) (6)

Fig. 3. Mean temperature of substrate and ambient air (trial 2).

2R2 1 ; R2

r a

where r is the radius of the disks (m) and a is the distance between disks (m). Together, Eqs. (1)(6) provide a means of calculating heat losses from the reactor conguration tested, and determining the overall thermal energy balance as detailed in our analysis below.

3. Results and discussion 3.1. Temperature and moisture content Because of the strong relationship of temperature with decomposition rate, temperature provides an important indicator of composting process efciency [5]. The high-ow reactor was able to reach maximum temperature faster than low-ow reactor, presumably because increased aeration minimized the oxygen limitation common in the initial phases of composting [19]. Figs. 2 and 3 show the temperature prole of compost (mean of 15 thermocouples averaged over 1 day) and ambient temperature. Compost temperature uctuated more in the high-ow reactor because of cooling effects of ambient air, as well as the moisture changes discussed below.

The temperature of the high-ow reactor decreased to ambient air level at the end of the composting process. In the case of the low-ow reactor, the peak temperature was reached a week after starting up the experiment and was maintained longer than that of the high-ow reactor. This phenomenon was also reported by Liao et al. [20]. They observed that compost without forced aeration maintained thermophilic conditions longer than the aerated pile. Figs. 4 and 5 show the variation of moisture content during both trials. Initial moisture contents of about 62% wet basis (wb) decreased during the composting process. Heat generated by biological metabolism and the convective airow increase water evaporation in the reactor. The compost moisture content in the high-ow reactor decreased more rapidly than in the low-ow reactor. In the high-ow reactor this led to moisture contents in the range of 4147% (wb) after 12 days. Low moisture content inhibits microbial biodegradation [21,22], so 40 kg of water was added to adjust moisture content back up to approximately 60% (wb) on the 12th day. In contrast, the moisture content losses in the low-ow reactors were more gradual, reecting the lower convective water losses at lower airow rates.

Fig. 2. Mean temperature of substrate and ambient air (trial 1).

Fig. 4. Moisture content (wet basis) of substrate (trial 1).

H.K. Ahn et al. / Process Biochemistry 42 (2007) 215223


Fig. 7. Volatile solids of substrate (trial 2). Fig. 5. Moisture content (wet basis) of substrate (trial 2).

3.2. Volatile solids Decreasing VS (volatile solids) continued throughout the composting process as microbes degraded the organic material in mixture (Figs. 6 and 7). Decomposition kinetics depend on a variety of factors, including moisture, oxygen, and temperature in ranges appropriate to support microbial activity [2]. The VS decreased more rapidly in the high-ow reactors than the lowow reactors in the latter half of the composting process. This difference likely resulted from the more optimal moisture in the high-ow reactors at that stage of the process. The relatively high oxygen concentration of the high-ow reactors may also have positively inuenced VS degradation relative to the lowow reactors. However, the inuence of airow rate on VS degradation was not signicant in this study, presumably because the oxygen concentrations were well distributed in both reactors throughout the experiments (Figs. 8 and 9) as further discussed in Section 3.5. 3.3. Caloric value The calorimeter approach is the most accurate way to determine heats of reaction for unknown mixtures of organics

[2], and thus provides a means of measuring changes in the amount of energy available from compost over time. The caloric results measured by bomb calorimetry in this study are illustrated in Figs. 10 and 11. The microbes decreased the biodegradable volatile solids portion of the mixture during the composting process, so the caloric value of samples decreased with time. As with the VS, the caloric value in the high-ow reactor decreased more rapidly than that of the low-ow reactor in the last half of the process. 3.4. Characteristics of the composting mass Table 3 presents the characteristics of the composting mass in the initial stage of the experiment, as well as those of the leachate and samples taken during the experiment. Table 3 also indicates the characteristics of the dead zone at the wall and bottom of the reactor as well as the thoroughly mixed interior compost of the reactor at the end of the experiment. Because this is a long-term experiment using a small pilot system, the amount of loss from sampling can have a signicant effect on the mass balance. In such situations it is imperative to consider the amount of loss from sampling in order to calculate the mass balance accurately. In this study these sampling mass

Fig. 6. Volatile solids of substrate (trial 1).

Fig. 8. Oxygen concentrations of exhaust air (trial 1).


H.K. Ahn et al. / Process Biochemistry 42 (2007) 215223

Fig. 11. Caloric value of substrate (trial 2). Fig. 9. Oxygen concentrations of exhaust air (trial 2).

Fig. 10. Caloric value of substrate (trial 1).

unmixed layer around the perimeter of the reactor that the auger did not touch. As the well-mixed interior material decomposed during the course of the trials, the initially relatively small unmixed volumes in this dead zone at the edges and bottom of the reactors became an increasing fraction of the total. At the completion of the experiment, 45.548.5% of total composting mass in the reactor was located in the dead zone. As the composting mass in the dead zone experiences different conditions from the well-mixed middle material, the characteristics of the dead zone material are apt to have different characteristics as well. Since the materials in this dead zone occupied a large portion of the reactor volume, this needed to be accounted for to ensure accurate of estimates of water, volatile solids (VS), and caloric value (CV) for mass and energy balances. To address this concern, the mass and characteristics of material in the dead zone were measured separately and included in the mass and energy calculations and results. 3.5. Mass balance Table 4 shows the mass balance of water, VS, and CV in trials 1 and 2. Although both reactor treatments in each trial

losses accounted for between 5.1 and 8.1% of the initial mass in the reactors. Although the composting material was mixed every day with an auger mounted in the reactor, there was a 2.39.1 cm
Table 3 Sample characteristics in trials 1 and 2 Trial 1 High-ow Weight (kg) Initial phase Sample loss* 275.5 15.74 MC (%) 62.04 53.22 61.02 59.77 49.53 99.8 100 VS (%) 72.91 68.64 64.36 64.07 64.7 50.56 CV (kJ/g) 13.81 12.41 12.16 12.27 11.82 9.425 Low-ow Weight (kg) 275.5 13.97 14.34 58.72 77.7 11.72 0.7 MC (%) 62.12 50.28 62.32 61.13 41.78 99.74 100 VS (%) 73.79 69.45 63.65 66.54 68.07 45.07

Trial 2 High-ow CV (kJ/g) 13.54 12.57 12.25 12.47 12.13 8.5 Weight (kg) 275.5 22.37 20.04 51.8 84.3 21.82 14.1 MC (%) 61.96 57.16 64.95 66.42 53.55 99.1 100 VS (%) 73.76 66.62 62.92 64.38 61.92 46.62 CV (kJ/g) 13.6 12.61 12.24 12.31 12.06 10.50 Low-ow Weight (kg) 275.5 20.74 10.82 58.34 82.92 24.56 2.7 MC (%) 62.44 52.36 61.52 62.49 47.23 98.84 100 VS (%) 73.23 67.12 62.49 64.63 63.47 47.59 CV (kJ/g) 13.65 12.82 12.32 12.46 12.49 10.42

Finished phase DZW 26.56 DZB 45.48 MZ 80.74 L 26.6 CW 14.2

DZW: dead zone in wall, DZB: dead zone in bottom, MZ: mixed zone, L: leachate, CV: caloric value (kJ/g total solid), CW: condensed water. * MC of sample loss: {1 (sum of sample dry weights/sum of sample fresh weights)} 100, VS of sample loss: (sum of sample VS weights/sum of sample solid weights) 100, CV of sample loss: mean of all samples.

H.K. Ahn et al. / Process Biochemistry 42 (2007) 215223 Table 4 Mass balance of water, VS and CV in trials 1 and 2 Trial 1 High-ow Water (kg) Initial phase Added water WPMD SL Finished phase DZW DZB MZ L CW Calculated change* 170.92 40 18.50 8.38 16.21 27.18 39.99 26.55 14.2 125.31 VS (kg) 76.25 5.05 6.66 11.72 26.36 0.027 26.43 Tot. CV (kJ) 1,444,274 91,344 125,922 224,543 481,830 507.58 520,127 Low-ow Water (kg) 171.14 15.93 7.02 8.94 35.90 32.46 11.69 0.7 91.76 VS (kg) 77.01 4.82 3.44 15.19 30.79 0.014 22.76 Tot. CV (kJ) 1,412,578 87,377 66,178 284,669 548,517 259.01 425,578 Trial 2 High-ow Water (kg) 170.70 40 21.67 12.79 13.02 34.41 45.14 21.62 14.1 119.49 VS (kg) 77.3 6.39 4.42 11.20 24.25 0.091 30.95 Tot. CV (kJ) 1,425,280 120,930 85,974 214,126 472,238 2,054 529,958 Low-ow Water (kg) 172.02 17.15 10.86 6.66 36.46 39.16 24.28 2.7 74.46 VS (kg) 75.78 6.63 2.60 14.14 27.77 0.136 24.50


Tot. CV (kJ) 1,412,502 126,662 51,295 272,666 546,524 2,968 412,387

WPMD: water produced by metabolic decomposition (0.7 degraded VS: Das et al., 1996; Robinson, 2000), SL: sample loss, DZW: dead zone in wall, DZB: dead zone in bottom, MZ: mixed zone, L: leachate, CW: condensed water, tot. CV: total caloric value = CV of each sample (kJ/g total solid) total mass of solid(g). * Evaporated water: initialH2 O water added water WPMD CW SL DZW DZB MZ LH2 O : * Degraded VS: initialVS (SL + DZW + DZB + MZ + L)VS. * Generated energy: initialCV (SL + DZW + DZB + MZ + L)CV.

started with identical mixtures and masses, water was added to the high-ow reactors on day 12 to compensate for increased convective water loss as previously noted, increasing the inputs for those treatments. The decomposition of organic matter generates additional metabolic water [23], whose quantities were estimated as 70% of the mass of VS degraded ([24]; Robinson, 2000). Outputs from the system included moisture in the various compost fractions (samples, the mixed zone, and the dead zones against the wall and bottom) and leachate, with evaporated water loss calculated as the difference between these inputs and measured outputs. On a mass basis, evaporated water loss was greater in the high-ow reactors than the lowow reactors, 34 and 45 kg in trials 1 and 2, respectively. On a percentage basis, the high-ow reactors evaporated 55% of the sum of water inputs and the low-ow reactors evaporated 49% of the inputs in trial 1. In trial 2, evaporated water removal was 45% of the total water inputs in the high-ow reactor and 38% of inputs in the low-ow reactor. These increased water losses from the high-ow reactors were expected, given the higher volumes of hot humid air exhausted in that treatment. The amount of VS reduction of the high-ow reactors was greater than that of the low-ow reactor in both trials, with mass losses indicated in Table 4. On a percentage basis, the VS reduction in the high-ow reactor in trial 1 was 34.7 and 40% in trial 2, while those of the low-ow reactors were 29.6 and 32.2%, respectively. A similar positive inuence of increased airow on decomposition rate was observed by Miller [25]. This positive correlation between airow on decomposition rate likely occurs through impacts on the oxygen concentration within the composting matrix, as mass transfer limitations are known to reduce decomposition rates [13,26], especially in the early phases of composting [19]. Although airow inuenced the biodegration rate positively, its effects were not signicant in this study. This may be because the oxygen concentration was in the appropriate range for both reactors through all the

experiments (Figs. 8 and 9) so that the positive benets of reducing mass transfer limitations were small. The more optimal moisture in the high-ow reactors in the latter half of the composting process may have contributed to greater VS reduction than in the low-ow reactors. 3.6. The energy produced by VS degradation If the substrate is composed of the same type of organic material throughout, the energy generated through biodegradation is proportional to the amount of organic material degraded [2]. With greater VS reductions observed in the high-ow reactor treatment, the energy generated through VS degradation in the high-ow reactor was also expected to be greater than in the low-ow reactors. Bomb calorimetry measurements of input and output materials indicated the net energy generated in the high-ow reactors was 94,549 and 117,571 kJ greater than in the low-ow reactors in trials 1 and 2, respectively. Based on these CV measurements, the energy generated from degrading of one gram VS of the poultry manure/wood shavings mixture ranged from 16.8 to 19.7 kJ/g VS (Table 5). These energy generation values were calculated based on the change in reactor caloric value and VS mass during composting, while the previous researchers calculated on the basis of caloric value and VS content of the initial mixture [27 29]. Thus our results are based on the VS actually degraded, as opposed to the total VS that includes some recalcitrant compounds. The results calculated by including recalcitrant compounds are near the midpoint of our measured results in present study, as in Table 5. Another way to calculate energy production is on the basis of oxygen consumption, which is closely proportional to energy generation. On an oxygen basis, the energy liberated during composting has been reported in the range of 13.6 kJ/g O2 (104.2 kcal/mole O2) [2] to 14 kJ/g O2 [30]. The typical COD/VS


H.K. Ahn et al. / Process Biochemistry 42 (2007) 215223

Table 5 The energy produced by VS degradation in trials 1 and 2 Trial 1 High-ow Degraded VS (kg) Generated energy (kJ)b Energy produced by VS degradation (kJ/g VS) * Energy produced by VS degradation (kJ/g VS) **
* ** a

Trial 2 Low-ow 22.76 425,578 18.7 18.3 High-ow 30.95 529,958 17.1 18.4 Low-ow 24.50 412,387 16.8 18.6

26.43 520,127 19.7 18.9

Based on the VS actually degraded (b/a). Based on the total VS that includes recalcitrant compounds.

ratio for poultry manure has been reported as 1.27 [31], which multiplied by 14 kJ/g O2 gives an estimate of 17.8 kJ/g VS degraded [32]. This estimate for poultry manure is near the midpoint of our measured results for the poultry manuresawdust mixture in the current study. 3.7. Thermal balance Conduction, convection, and radiation energy losses were calculated using Eqs. (1)(6) (Table 6). The daily based calculated energy losses (kJ day1) were summed to cumulative energy losses (kJ/30 days) during the entire experimental period. The mass of evaporated water, as calculated by measuring solid and liquid phase inputs and outputs as reported in Table 4, was similar to the mass of evaporated water calculated by using measured airow and psychometric properties for the high-ow reactor in both trials. For the low-ow reactors, the evaporated losses calculated from input and output measurements were signicantly greater than those calculated from airow and psychometric properties. The difference between the psychometric calculation and the water loss measured in inputs and outputs is due in part to unaccounted airow in the low-ow treatment. While measured airow through forced convection was in a downdraft mode, natural convection of air heated in the compost matrix created countercurrents of upow, which were clearly observable in the low-ow reactors whenever the reactors were mixed. Because the top surfaces of the reactors were open to the ambient air, we had no way of measuring these natural convection losses directly.
Table 6 Heat generation and removal from composting (trials 1 and 2) Evaporated water (kg)*

Evidence of this natural convection phenomena is observed in the results of the convective heat loss calculation. The portion of heat loss attributed to forced convection is 54.1% (trial 1) and 51.6% (trial 2) of the total energy produced in the high-ow reactor, but it is just 17% (trial 1) and 21.3% (trial 2) in the low-ow reactor. Assuming the unaccounted for water loss in the water mass balance was associated with natural convection, the total convective losses were 60.3% (trial 1) and 56.5% (trial 2) of the total energy produced in the high-ow reactor and 55% (trial 1) and 45.9% (trial 2) in the low-ow reactor. With a lower percentage of total energy loss attributed to convection in the low-ow reactors, the percentage loss attributed to conductive loss was greater, calculated as 44.2 and 52.6% of total energy losses in trials 1 and 2, respectively. In commercial-scale composting reactors, the energy used for evaporation has been reported at 75.886.2% of the total heat loss (Phan et al., 1987). The reactors used in this study show a considerably lower evaporative efciency (high-ow: 52.4 and 48.8%; low-ow: 52.5 and 42.7%) than the commercial systems, but comparable to that noted in a prior pilot-scale reactor study [32]. The evaporative efciency of reactor congurations is related to the size and surface area/volume ratios, as well as insulating properties of the reactors. In the case of small- or pilotscale reactors, the surface area to volume ratio is relatively large, resulting in a larger conductive heat loss [33]. Radiant energy transfer occurs as a result of energy exchange between two bodies of unequal temperature. Thus for equivalent ambient temperatures, radiant energy losses are much more signicant at higher temperatures [2]. Since the compost temperatures in the low-ow reactors were greater than that of

Evaporated Forced convection Natural convection Conductive Radiant water (kg)** loss (kJ/30 days) loss (kJ/30 days)***** loss (kJ/30 days) loss (kJ) 281,300 (54.1%) 72,144 (17.0%) 273,588 (51.6%) 87,684 (21.3%) 32,164 (6.2%) 161,728 (38.0%) 25,834 (4.9%) 101,620 (24.6%)

Generated energy (kJ/30 days)

Trial 1 High-ow 125.31 (307,436 kJ)*** (59.1%)**** 98.00 Low-ow 91.76 (225,124 kJ) (52.9%) 25.14 Trial 2 High-ow 119.49 (293,157 kJ) (55.3%) Low-ow 74.46 (182,680 kJ) (44.3%)
* **

178,867 (34.4%) 1,454 (0.3%) 520,127 187,893 (44.2%) 2,171 (0.5%) 425,578 175,275 (33.1%) 6,953 (1.3%) 529,958 217,104 (52.6%) 1,960 (4.7%) 412,387

94.86 30.34

Evaporated water from measured data. Evaporated water from psychrometric calculation. *** Energy required for evaporation: 2453.4 kJ/kg water. **** The portion of evaporation heat loss in generated energy. ***** The difference between evaporative loss from measured data and psychrometric calculation.

H.K. Ahn et al. / Process Biochemistry 42 (2007) 215223


the high-ow reactors throughout the composting process, the radiant energy losses of these reactors were also greater (Table 6). 4. Conclusions Better knowledge of the energetics of the composting system can assist with both system design and process control. In this study, the thermal balance of poultry manure and wood shavings mixture was estimated during composting at different aeration rates. The convective heat loss was the largest heat loss term in the high-ow reactor. The portion of heat loss attributed to forced convection was 5254% of the total energy produced in the highow reactor, but just 1721% in the low-ow reactor. Conductive heat loss was greater in the low-ow reactor, at 4453% of total energy losses. The radiant energy loss of the low-ow reactor was greater than high-ow reactor relatively, but in all cases was only 5% or less of the total energy loss. Thus the primary impact of airow rate is on the balance of conductive and convective losses. The energy generated from degrading of 1 g VS of poultry manure mixture with wood shavings was 16.8319.7 kJ/g VS. These values were calculated based on the VS actually degraded during composting. These results are similar to the values calculated by previous method, which calculates energy production on the basis of total (including recalcitrant) VS. Measurement of many constituent parameters in composting systems necessitates removal of samples, and in bench- and pilotscale studies these sample masses can accumulate to a signicant fraction of the total initial mass. Some reactor systems can also contain unmixed dead zones, whose characteristics need to be separately tracked. Careful consideration of each of these factors is essential for accurate mass and energy analysis of composting and other solid-state fermentations. The high-ow operating strategy applied in this study is suitable for inducing rapid biodrying and biodegradation, especially during the early stages of composting. Since the temperature and moisture content of the composting material uctuated more in the high-ow reactor than in the low-ow reactor, a low-ow operating strategy in the latter stage of composing should help maintain moisture content and temperature in the optimum range for a longer period, and thus more rapidly achieve stability and maturity goals. References
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