Carbon monoxide from composting due to thermal oxidation of biomass. Academic Article uri icon


  • Emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) were observed from decomposing organic wastes and litter under laboratory, pilot composting plant, and natural conditions. Field studies included air from inside a compost heap of about 200 m3, emissions from composting of livestock wastes at a biologically operating farm, and leaf litter pile air samples. The concentration of CO was up to 120 micromol mol(-1) in the compost piles of green waste, and up to 10 micromol mol(-1) in flux chambers above livestock waste windrow composts. The mean CO flux rates were approximately 20 mg CO m(-2) h(-1) for compost heaps of green waste, and varied from 30 to 100 mg CO m(-2) h(-1) for fresh dung windrows. Laboratory studies using a temperature and ventilation-controlled substrate container were performed to elucidate the origin of CO, and included hay samples of fixed moisture content at temperatures between 5 and 65 degrees C, including nonsterilized as well as sterilized samples. The concentration of CO was up to 160 micromol mol(-1) in these experiments, and Arrhenius-type plot analyses resulted in activation energies of 65 kJ mol(-1) for thermochemically produced CO from the nonsterilized compost substrate. Sterilized samples showed dramatically reduced CO2 but virtually unchanged CO emissions, albeit at a slightly lower activation energy, likely a result of the high-temperature sterilization. Though globally and regionally these CO emissions are only a minor source, thermochemically produced CO emissions might affect local air quality in and near composting facilities.

published proceedings

  • J Environ Qual

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Hellebrand, H. J., & Schade, G. W

citation count

  • 21

complete list of authors

  • Hellebrand, HJ||Schade, GW

publication date

  • March 2008