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Calibration of chemical and biological changes in cocomposting of biowastes using near-infrared spectroscopy
Environmental Science and Technology
Cocomposting of green wastes and sewage sludges is a complex process involving rapid biological and chemical changes. The objective of the study was to assess the usefulness of near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) to characterize these changes, as an alternative to standard procedures which are often time-consuming and laborious. Samples obtained during 146 days of composting were analyzed by 14 conventional methods and NIRS. Results from conventional methods demonstrated a noticeable separation into two distinct phases. An initial phase from 4 to 50-60 days was characterized by intensive degradation. A second phase up to 146 days was characterized by a decrease in all biological activities. NIRS calibrations allowed accurate predictions of nitrogen (N), carbon (C), CA humic acid (HA), pH, respiration, cellulase, phenoloxidase, and composting time successfully. Results were less accurate for organic matter (OM), protease, acid, and alkaline phosphatases and unsatisfactory for fulvic acid. NIRS calibration allows composting time/state of progress of maturation to be predicted accurately to within 10 days. A global index of composting evolution (GICE), resulting from the 14 parameters studied, is proposed. It is precisely predicted and shows that since NIRS is able to predict essential parameters of compost maturity, it could prove invaluable for monitoring biowastes cocomposting.
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