Characterization of composted sewage sludge during the maturation process: a pilot scale study.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 2018; 25(34):34332-34342ES
This paper determines the impact of the maturation process of composted sewage sludge on the quality of the final product and assesses the stabilization effect. The samples of composted sewage sludge were taken from a wastewater treatment plant located in Pomerania in northern Poland. The sewage sludge was composted in an open windrow composting plant with the addition of straw and wood chips in the turning windrow. The aeration of the sewage sludge mixture was conducted based on two methods. The first phase (intensive degradation phase of 6 to 8 weeks) was characterized by frequently turning; the second phase for maturation used aeration channels (2 to 3 months). In three sampling campaigns samples were taken from the same windrow after 2 (no. 1), 8 (no. 2), and 12 weeks (no. 3) of maturation. Fresh samples were used for analyzing the stabilization parameter as static respiration activity (AT4). Furthermore, the values of pH, organic matter (OM), total organic carbon (TOC), elementary composition, nutrients, total content, and mobile forms of heavy metals were analyzed in the compost samples. A significant decrease was found in the stabilization parameter (AT4) during the maturation of tested materials. In turn, no significant differences were found in the elementary composition. The concentration of most metals increased in the final product. The total content of heavy metals in the final product did not exceed the limit values for the agricultural use of sewage sludge, compost from municipal waste, and for organic fertilizers. There were no significant changes in the percentage of bioavailable and mobile forms of heavy metals during compost maturation. Zinc was characterized by the highest level of mobile and bioavailable forms, which may cause bioaccumulation after the fertilization of soil. The study has shown that the process of maturation of compost from sewage sludge not affects changes in the content of heavy metal forms. The scope of this study has been planned on a wider scale for different variants of sewage sludge composting, in order to evaluate the process.