Study of the organic matter evolution during municipal solid waste composting aimed at identifying suitable parameters for the evaluation of compost maturity.Waste Manag. 2005; 25(2):209-13.WM
In this work the composting process of municipal solid wastes was studied in order to characterize the transformations of organic matter, particularly humic acid (HA). A composting process, lasting three months, was monitored by chemical methods; the following parameters were measured: water-soluble carbon concentration (WSC) and humic substances content (humic and fulvic acid (FA)). The effects of humification on the molecular structure of humic acid (HA) were also evaluated by Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) and (13)C NMR spectroscopy. WSC concentration rapidly increased reaching a maximum at day-14 of the composting process and then declined. The humic and fulvic acid content (HA and FA, respectively) slightly increased during the process. The FT-IR and (13)C NMR spectra of HA indicate a high rate of change in structure during composting. The groups containing aromatic and carboxylic C increased, while polysaccharides and other aliphatic structures degraded during composting, resulting in HA structures of higher aromaticity. Therefore, spectrometric measurements could provide information significantly correlated to conventional chemical parameters of compost maturity.