Monitoring of a Composting Process: Thermal Stability of Raw Materials and Products

  • M. T. Dell’Abate
  • F. Tittarelli
Conference paper


In the following chapter, thermal methods of thermogravimetry (TG) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) were utilised on agro-industrial raw materials and on samples collected during a 5-month composting period. The main objective was to investigate the energetic status of different raw materials with respect to that of compost samples at different stages of the composting process, in order to obtain a process monitoring. Two piles, based on wastes from citrus industrial processing, were produced according to the presence and absence of sludge in the initial mixture of matrices. Materials thermal characterisation showed that sludge organic matter was the most stabilised among the used starting materials, but its quantitative contribution to the final product was minor. DSC measurements on samples taken at different times of transformation demondtrated at a macroscopic level the evolution of organic materials towards more energetic organic fractions. TG data allowed the calculation of the thermostability index R1, able to quantify the relative amount of the thermally more stable organic matter fraction with respect to the less stable Finally, data showed that organic matter stabilisation was accompanied by an increased water retention.


Differential Scanning Calorimetry Plant Residue Differential Scanning Calorimetry Measurement Compost Process Differential Scanning Calorimetry Trace 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aggarwal P, Dollimore D, Heon K (1997) Comparative thermal analysis study of two biopolymers, starch and cellulose. Thermochim Acta 50: 7–17Google Scholar
  2. Blanco MJ, Almendros G (1994) Maturity assessment of wheat straw composts by thermogravimetric analysis. J Agric Food Chem 42: 2454–2459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blanco MJ, Almendros G (1997) Chemical transformation, phytotoxicity and nutrient availability in progressive composting stages of wheat straw. Plant Soil 196: 15–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dell’Abate MT, Canali S, Trinchera A, Benedetti A, Sequi P (1998) Thermal analysis in the evaluation of compost stability: a comparison with humification parameters. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 51: 217–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dell’Abate MT, Benedetti A, Sequi P (2000) Thermal methods of organic matter maturation monitoring during a composting process. J Therm Anal 61: 389–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Grisi B, Grace C, Brookes PC, Benedetti A and Dell’Abate MT (1998) Temperature effects on organic matter and microbial biomass dynamics in temperate and tropical soils. Soil Biol Biochem 30: 1309–1315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kaloustian J, Pauli AM, Pastor J (1997) Etude comparative par analyses thermique et chimique de quelques végétaux méditerranéens. J Therm Anal 50: 795–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McBrierty VJ, Wardell GE, Keely CM, O’Neil EP, Prasad M (1996) The characterization of water in peat. Soil Sci Soc Am J 60: 991–1000CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Pinzari F, Tittarelli F, Benedetti A, and Insam H (2002) Use of CLPP for evaluating the role of different organic materials in composting. In: Insam H, Riddech N, Klammer S (Eds) Microbiology of Composting, Springer, Heidelberg, pp. 383–396Google Scholar
  10. Schaumann GA, Antelmann O (2000) Thermal characteristics of soil organic matter measured by DSC: A hint on a glass transition. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 163: 179–181Google Scholar
  11. Sharma HSS (1990) Analysis of the components of lignocellulose degraded by Agaricus bisporus and Pleotorus ostreatus. Thermochim Acta 173: 241–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Sharma HSS (1991) Biochemical and thermal analyses of mushroom compost during preparation. Mushroom Sci 13: 169–179Google Scholar
  13. Sharma HSS (1995) Thermogravimetric analysis of mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) compost for fibre components. Mushroom Sci 14: 267–273Google Scholar
  14. Springer U, Klee J (1954) Prüfung der Leistungsfähigkeit von einigen wichtigeren Verfahren zur Bestimmung des Kohlenstoffs mittels Chromschwefelsäure sowie Vorschlag einer neuen Schnellmethode. Z Pflanzenernähr Düng Bodenkd 64: 1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Tittarelli F, Trinchera A, Benedetti A, Intrigliolo F (this volume) Evaluation of organic matter stability during the composting process of agro-industrial wastes. In: Insam H, Riddech N, Klammer S (Eds) Microbiology of Composting, Springer, Heidelberg, pp. 397–406Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. T. Dell’Abate
  • F. Tittarelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto Sperimentale per la Nutrizione delle PianteRomaItaly

Personalised recommendations