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Odors emanating from biosolids are typically associated with ammonia (NH3) loss. The study was conducted to develop convenient and efficient strategies for short-term control of NH3 loss and odors from biosolids. Aerobically-digested (AE) biosolids were collected from a wastewater treatment plant and lime-stabilized (AE-LS) in the laboratory. Aluminum (Al3+), calcium (Ca2+), iron (Fe3+) and magnesium (Mg2+) salts were used as treatments because they increase hydrogen (H+) activity that prevent deprotonation of ammonium (NH4 +) ions and the formation of NH3 or precipitate carbonates (CO3 2−) that block the formation of ammonium carbonate ((NH4)2CO3 − smelling salts) and ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH) that easily form NH3, CO2 and H2O. Selected salts were evaluated at two rates using either surface or incorporated application methods. Ammonia emissions were evaluated in a replicated and closed soil column system using boric acid traps. Broken pecan shells were also evaluated as a surface treatment and reflected a current regional practice in the Juarez Valley in Mexico. Ammonia volatilization was monitored over a 72 h period. At low dosages, the pecan shell mulch in Experiment I was the only treatment to significantly reduce NH3 losses relative to the AE biosolids control, but not in comparison to the AE-LS control. At high dosages, surface applied Fe3+ salt effectively reduced NH3 emissions relative to the AE and AE-LS controls, and incorporated Mg2+ salt also decreased NH3 emissions relative to the AE control. We conclude that NH3 emissions are instantaneous when lime is mixed with biosolids. Surface treatment of biosolids has potential as NH3 and odor control agents. A surface application of an Fe3+ salt or an organic mulch can significantly reduce NH3 losses. Additional research is needed to verify stochiometric dosages for metallic salts and to understand the mode of action of surface mulches.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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