Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Windrow Composting of Garden Waste

Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article – Annual report year: 2010



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Microbial degradation of organic wastes entails the production of various gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and carbon monoxide (CO). Some of these gases are classified as greenhouse gases (GHGs), thus contributing to climate change. A study was performed to evaluate three methods for quantifying GHG emissions from central composting of garden waste. Two small-scale methods were used at a windrow composting facility: a static flux chamber method and a funnel method. Mass balance calculations based on measurements of the C content in the in- and out-going material showed that 91 to 94% of the C could not be accounted for using the small-scale methods, thereby indicating that these methods significantly underestimate GHG emissions. A dynamic plume method (total emission method) employing Fourier Transform Infra Red (FTIR) absorption spectroscopy was found to give a more accurate estimate of the GHG emissions, with CO2 emissions measured to be 127 +/- 15% of the degraded C. Additionally, with this method, 2.7 +/- 0.6% and 0.34 +/- 0.16% of the degraded C was determined to be emitted as CH4 and CO. In this study, the dynamic plume method was a more effective tool for accounting for C losses and, therefore, we believe that the method is Suitable for measuring GHG emissions from composting facilities. The total emissions were found to be 2.4 +/- 0.5 kg CH4-C Mg-1 wet waste (ww) and 0.06 +/- 0.03 kg N2O-N Mg-1 ww from a facility treating 15,540 Mg of garden waste yr(-1), or 111 +/- 30 kg CO2-equivalents Mg-1 ww.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)713-724
StatePublished - 2010
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 39
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