From anaerobic to aerobic treatment : upcycling of digestate as a moisturizing agent for in-vessel composting process
In Tunisia, there are crucial challenges facing both urban and rural areas, the most prominent of which are the production of organic waste, the need for waste treatment, the demand for water and energy and the need for a circular economy. To this end, the study was designed to develop a technical concept on closed cycle ‘biowaste to bioenergy’ treating, basically food waste (FW) through combined biological processes. In this approach, the generated digestate from FW anaerobic reactors was used successfully as a moisturizing agent for FW in-vessel composting. Four types of digestate were examined to be used as moisturizing agent (MA). The selection of the appropriate MA was achieved based on technical criteria; moisture content (MC), C:N ratio and heavy metals concentrations. The findings showed that the digestate obtained from anaerobic co-digestion of food waste and wheat straw (D1) was the most efficient AD-effluent to be added. In terms of composting process performance, the thermophilic phase of the amended reactor (A1) lasted 16 days and reached higher temperatures of about 72 °C, while the unamended one (A1) was characterized by a thermophilic temperature of around 66 °C indicating that the end products were of a pathogen-free compost. When it comes to the physico-chemical factors examined demonstrating that the biological conditions were sufficiently developed. The findings showed overall decreasing profiles during the composting period for moisture, C:N ratio as well as nitrification index (NI). From the quality-point of view, it was found that heavy metal concentrations had lower limits than those values set by German standards. Moreover, all the compost samples appeared to be stable and classified as class IV and V end product.[Figure not available: see fulltext.].