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Lime stabilization can produce “fishy” or “rotten cabbage” like odor. In this paper, chemical odor analysis (static headspace, cryogenic concentration-GC/MS) was used to show that methanethiol in biosolids or the water contained in biosolids is first sorbed by an acid-base reaction with lime and subsequently converted into dimethyldisulfide (DMDS, rotten cabbage odor). The reaction is catalyzed by lime and is completed within hours or days. Trimethylamine (TMA, fishy odor) was found by ion chromatography to be present in liquid and dewatered sludge in its ionized form, but the sludge did not have a fishy odor nor did it release TMA to the gas phase. However, after liming, the biosolids released TMA and had a fishy odor. It was therefore shown that liming does not cause TMA production, but rather, increases the pH and converts TMA from a non-volatile ionic form into an odorous unionized form. The TMA odor potential of limed biosolids (measured as the concentration of dissolved TMA that could evaporate completely over the time) can be in the order of a hundred million olfactory units (dilutions) per ton of biosolids. Anoxic treatment (nitrate amendment) eliminated organosulfur production while long-term anaerobic storage/digestion nearly eliminated organosulfur and TMA production. The proposed anaerobic mechanism is demethylation by methylotrophic methanogenic bacteria and formation of H2S and NH3.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2002

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