Castaldi, Paola and Garau, Giovanni and Melis, Pietro (2008) Maturity assessment of compost from municipal solid waste through the study of enzyme activities and water-soluble fractions. Waste Management, Vol. 28 (3), p. 534-540. ISSN 0956-053X. Article.
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In this work the dynamics of biochemical (enzymatic activities) and chemical (water-soluble fraction) parameters during 100 days of municipal solid wastes composting were studied to evaluate their suitability as tools for compost characterization. The hydrolase (protease, urease, cellulase, β-glucosidase) and dehydrogenase activities were characterized by significant changes during the first 2 weeks of composting, because of the increase of easily decomposable organic compounds. After the 4th week a “maturation phase” was identified in which the enzymatic activities tended to gently decrease, suggesting the stabilisation of organic matter. Also the water-soluble fractions (water-soluble carbon, nitrogen, carbohydrates and phenols), which are involved in many degradation processes, showed major fluctuations during the first month of composting. The results obtained showed that the hydrolytic activities and the water-soluble fractions did not vary statistically during the last month of composting. Significant correlations between the enzymatic activities, as well as between enzyme activities and water-soluble fractions, were also highlighted. These results highlight the suitability of both enzymatic activities and water soluble fractions as suitable indicators of the state and evolution of the organic matter during composting. However, since in the literature the amount of each activity or fraction at the end of composting depends on the raw material used for composting, single point determinations appear inadequate for compost characterization. This emphasizes the importance of the characterization of the dynamics of enzymatic activities and water-soluble fractions during the process.
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