Effect of different-sized bulking agents on nitrification process during food waste digestate composting

Dongyi Li, Rajat Kumar, Johnravindar Davidraj, Liwen Luo, Jun Zhao, Manu Mathikere Krishnegowda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Food waste digestate (FWD) disposal is a serious bottleneck in anaerobic digestion plants to achieve a circular bioeconomy. FWD could be recycled into nitrogen-rich compost; however, the co-composting process optimisation along with bulking agents is required to reduce nitrogen loss and unwanted gaseous emissions. In the present study, two different-sized bulking agents, namely, wood shaving (WS) and fine sawdust (FS), were used to investigate their impact on FWD composting performance along with the nitrogen dynamics. The mixing of FWD with different bulking agents altered the physiochemical characteristics of composting matrix and the effective composting performance was observed through reduced ammonium nitrogen and increased seed germination index during 28 days of composting. The carbon loss of 19–22% through CO2 emission indicated similar carbon mineralisation with both types of sawdust; however, the nitrogen transformation pathways were different. Only WS treatment demonstrated the nitrification process, whereas the nitrogen loss was higher with FS. A total nitrogen loss of ∼15% was observed in treatments with FS, whereas WS treatments displayed a nitrogen loss of 12%. The outcome of the present study could significantly contribute to the practical aspect of the FWD composting operation with the promotion of the bio-recycling economy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jan 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal

User-Defined Keywords

  • bulking agent
  • composting
  • Food waste digestate
  • NO emission
  • nitrogen conservation


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