Elemental and spectroscopic characterization of humic-acid-like compounds during composting of olive mill by-products.J Hazard Mater. 2009 Apr 30; 163(2-3):1289-97.JH
Humic acids (HAs) were isolated at different stages of composting from two piles of solid olive mill residues (SOR) treated for the first 30 days with tap water (pile C1) or olive mill wastewater (pile C2), for a total composting period of 9 months. The HA fractions were characterized by elemental analysis, UV-visible, Fourier transform infrared and fluorescence spectroscopy in order to monitor humification process and the maturity of the composts. As composting proceeded, the elemental composition of the humic acids showed a decrease in C and H content, and in the C/N ratio, and an increase in N and O contents and in the C/H and O/C ratios. These changes could be attributed to a loss of aliphatic groups and to an increase of aromatic character, polycondensation and degree of oxidation of the HAs. Spectroscopic data agree and support these results, suggesting that the chemical and structural features of the HAs of both composts tend to reach those typical of native soil HAs, that is compounds with a high degree of humification and a high molecular weight and complexity. Therefore, both composting processes seem suitable to produce well-humified organic matter, with important benefits for their use in soil amendment. No differences appeared between the two treatments concerning the humic character of the two final composts.