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Special Issue "Composts and Organic Wastes: Analytical Methods and Applications"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 October 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Rafael López Núñez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
IRNAS-CSIC, Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology of Seville, Avda Reina Mercedes 10, 41012 Sevilla, Spain
Interests: compost; composting; municipal solid waste; odors monitoring and control; biochar; soil organic matter; heavy metals; urban agriculture; nitrogen; mineralization; XRF; agricultural sciences; nutrient dynamics; organic waste recycling; soil science; soil fertility
Prof. Francisca Suárez Estrella
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Microbiology Area, Department of Biology and Geology, University of Almería, La Cañada de San Urbano s/n, 04120 Almería, Spain
Interests: compost; composting; agro-wastes; plant-wastes; compost microbiota; biological control; plant pathogen suppression

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Worldwide, there is growing concern over friendly waste management with a desire to advance the circular economy. Particularly, organic wastes have a long tradition of recycling in agriculture, as well as many other uses. The new ways of recycling, the appearance of emerging pollutants, and the continuous development of analytical instrumentation have produced constant R&D advancement in these topics. New analytical instruments and software have emerged that allow the characterization of waste and its effects focused on very different objectives. The biological, chemical, hydrophysical, engineering, and environmental aspects of waste recycling must be assessed in a faster, safer, and more reliable way. This Special Issue will collect the latest advances in the analytical methodology applied to the characterization of products such as compost, sewage sludge, urban waste, agro-industrial waste, manures, digestates, biochars, and in general any type of organic waste destined for recycling, reuse, or recovery. This characterization could be approached from different points of view (physical-chemical, enzymatic, microbiological, or molecular perspectives) but, in any case, it is a requirement for the development of higher quality products, which are in line with the current concept of bioeconomy and sustainability, as well as for the best prediction of its agronomic potential.

The topics of interest for this Special Issue include but are not limited to the following:

  • Biological and biochemical characterization
  • Biodiversity indexes
  • Metagenomic, transcriptomic and proteomic
  • Maturity and stability indexes
  • Emerging persistent micropollutants
  • Odor and VOCs in waste processing
  • Biochar characterization and biochar quality; proximate analysis
  • Reflectance spectroscopy, visible and near-infrared (VNIR), X-ray fluorescence, and merging of analytical techniques
  • Speciation, transformation, and phytotoxicity

Dr. Rafael López Núñez
Prof. Francisca Suárez Estrella
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Applied Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • organic waste
  • compost
  • sludge
  • manure
  • amendment
  • microbiome
  • analytical instrumentation
  • analytical methodology

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
2D Solid-State HETCOR 1H-13C NMR Experiments with Variable Cross Polarization Times as a Tool for a Better Understanding of the Chemistry of Cellulose-Based Pyrochars—A Tutorial
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(18), 8569; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11188569 - 15 Sep 2021
Viewed by 253
Abstract
The chemistry and nature of biochars are still far from being well understood. In the present work, solid-state 2D HETCOR 1H-13C NMR spectroscopy is introduced for an improved characterization of the aromatic network in biochars. To that end, a pyrochar [...] Read more.
The chemistry and nature of biochars are still far from being well understood. In the present work, solid-state 2D HETCOR 1H-13C NMR spectroscopy is introduced for an improved characterization of the aromatic network in biochars. To that end, a pyrochar obtained from the pyrolysis of cellulose at 350 °C for 1 h was used as an example. Variation of the contact time during cross polarization from 50 µs, to 200 µs and 1000 µs gave information about the protonation degree of the different C groups and their interactions. We demonstrated that carbohydrates did not survive the used pyrolysis conditions. Therefore, O-alkyl C was assigned to ethers. Phenols were not identified to a higher extent suggesting that furan and benzofuran-type units determine the O-functionality of the aromatic domains. The latter are directly connected to alkyl chains. Those features are expected to affect chemical but also physical properties of the biochar. Based on our results, we developed a new concept describing the nature of the aromatic network in the studied cellulose-based pyrochars. The latter contrasts common views about the chemical nature of biochar, possibly because pyrolysis temperatures > 350 °C are required for achieving advanced condensation of the aromatic domains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composts and Organic Wastes: Analytical Methods and Applications)
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Article
The Efficacy of Functional Composts Manufactured Using Spent Coffee Ground, Rice Bran, Biochar, and Functional Microorganisms
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(16), 7703; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167703 - 21 Aug 2021
Viewed by 377
Abstract
Spent coffee grounds (SCGs), one of the world’s most discarded wastes, may be an excellent resource as an organic fertilizer because of its richness in nutrients. The objective of this study was to develop a quality functional compost using SCGs, rice bran, biochar, [...] Read more.
Spent coffee grounds (SCGs), one of the world’s most discarded wastes, may be an excellent resource as an organic fertilizer because of its richness in nutrients. The objective of this study was to develop a quality functional compost using SCGs, rice bran, biochar, SCG extract, and functional microbes (plant growth promoting and plant pathogen-suppression bacteria), and then to test their functional efficacy for a potential commercial application. Essentially, two types of representative composts (Tr_1 and Tr_5 on the laboratory and pilot scale, respectively) were developed and passed all the official commercial quality standards. For pilot-scale composting, populations of Halotalea_uc, Corynebacterium nuruki, and Lactobacillus acidipiscis increased by augmentation of the composting microbes (MA-1) and the functional microbes (Bacillus cereus SB-3, Bacillus toyonensis SB-4, and Streptomyces sasae St-3). The higher total flavonoid content (11% increase compared to control) of pepper leaves in PT-1 and the higher TEAC in PT-1 (36.2%) and PT-2 (32.5%) proved the efficacy of the functional composts bioaugmented with the functional microbes. The seedling growth of radish seeds treated with Streptomyces sasae St-3 as a biocontrol agent significantly increased despite the presence of the pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lactucae. The total phenol content and TEAC in pepper plant leaves were significantly higher in Tr_5 than in the control (Tr_4), whereas there were no differences in Tr_4 and Tr_5 infested with the fungal pathogens, indicating that SB-3, SB-4, and St-3 cultures amended within the compost (Tr_5) may facilitate the production of the antioxidants in the absence of the pathogens. However, a significant reduction in the antioxidants (total phenolic content and TEAC) was observed in the pepper plants whose roots were infected with the pathogens, indicating that the pathogens could neutralize functionalities of the functional microbes. It was concluded that the enhancement of functional microbes in the compost would aid in the biological control of pathogens in the soil environment. Further functional compost studies are necessary in terms of mechanisms of plant growth-promotion, mechanisms of pathogen suppression by the actinobacterial biocontrol agents, and interactions between the two mechanisms, as well as quality enhancement of the composts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composts and Organic Wastes: Analytical Methods and Applications)
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Article
Compost Quality and Sanitation on Industrial Scale Composting of Municipal Solid Waste and Sewage Sludge
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(16), 7525; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167525 - 17 Aug 2021
Viewed by 511
Abstract
Municipal solid waste and sewage sludge are produced in large quantities that are often managed through industrial composting treatment. Because of their origin, composition, and complexity, ensuring adequate stabilization of the organic matter, and sanitation of fecal contaminants during composting is of the [...] Read more.
Municipal solid waste and sewage sludge are produced in large quantities that are often managed through industrial composting treatment. Because of their origin, composition, and complexity, ensuring adequate stabilization of the organic matter, and sanitation of fecal contaminants during composting is of the utmost significance, and difficult to achieve on an industrial scale. In this study, the operations of six industrial composting facilities that process municipal solid waste and sewage sludge were evaluated from the point of view of the sanitation achieved and the quality of the compost produced. In addition, the results were compared using the model of industrial compost from green waste. Differences between the plants were ascribable to operations other than composting systems. High phytotoxicity and fecal contamination above legislation thresholds were found in compost produced from municipal solid waste. In contrast, compost from sewage sludge were more stable and mature than those produced from green waste, and also had an adequate level of sanitation. The raw material and operational factors are of great relevance to obtain a stable, mature, and pathogen-free compost. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composts and Organic Wastes: Analytical Methods and Applications)
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Article
Effects of Organic Additives on Chemical, Microbiological and Plant Pathogen Suppressive Properties of Aerated Municipal Waste Compost Teas
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(16), 7402; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167402 - 12 Aug 2021
Viewed by 468
Abstract
The aim of the present study was to characterize the physical-chemical and microbiological features of aerated compost teas (CTs) extracted with dechlorinated tap water and with two different additives, molasses and whey, in increasing doses. Plant pathogen suppression properties of CTs were also [...] Read more.
The aim of the present study was to characterize the physical-chemical and microbiological features of aerated compost teas (CTs) extracted with dechlorinated tap water and with two different additives, molasses and whey, in increasing doses. Plant pathogen suppression properties of CTs were also taken into account. Total nitrogen in CTs increased with rising doses of the additives used. In spite of this, nitrogen and mineral element contributions were limited but complementary for plant mineral nutrition. Although total heavy metal contents in CTs were low, an increase of their bioavailable forms (ionic and chelated forms, presence in microorganisms) should be taken into account. In addition, the distribution on soil of acid and/or chelating products by CTs could increase the bioavailability of heavy metals, especially in the case of several annual distribution cycles and of medium–long term treatments. Additives modulated the structure and composition of microbial communities and CTs, exhibiting a broad spectrum of suppressive properties against plant pathogens, especially when they were used in a raw form. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composts and Organic Wastes: Analytical Methods and Applications)
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Article
Evolution of Composting Process in Maize Biomass Revealed by Analytical Pyrolysis (Py-GC/MS) and Pyrolysis Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (Py-CSIA)
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(15), 6684; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11156684 - 21 Jul 2021
Viewed by 494
Abstract
An innovative approach based on the combination of analytical pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) with compound-specific isotope analysis (Py-CSIA) is used to study the composting process of maize biomass. This multidisciplinary approach aims to elucidate the decomposition rate of the main [...] Read more.
An innovative approach based on the combination of analytical pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) with compound-specific isotope analysis (Py-CSIA) is used to study the composting process of maize biomass. This multidisciplinary approach aims to elucidate the decomposition rate of the main biogenic materials (lignin, cellulose, proteins, lipids, and waxes) responses to the composting process. According to Py-GC/MS data/structural composition, a noticeable and significant decrease during the first stage of the composting process of carbohydrates and aromatic compounds is found, followed by a gradual increase of all compounds till the end of the experiment. This trend, along with an increase of fatty acids methyl-ester at the first composting stage, sustains the microbial activity and its stabilization over time. Py-CSIA data showed a significant enrichment in 13C in all identified compounds over time, supporting the semi-quantitative results and the decomposition of initial biomass throughout the composting process. This trend is also perceptible in lignin moieties, long-chain aliphatic structures, and isoprenoids, as highly recalcitrant compounds, presumably due to depolymerization and carbon translocation of side-chain molecules during the composting process. Compound-specific isotope values showed a good correlation with the bulk isotope data, and this served as validation of the technique. However, bulk values showed higher heterogeneity because those represent an average of all organic compounds in the sample. By combining isotopic and structural information using Py-GC/MS and Py-CSIA, we are able to provide further information and a more detailed approach to the study of the decomposition process of biomass by considering the diverse dynamics of the main biogenic compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composts and Organic Wastes: Analytical Methods and Applications)
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Article
Fine Activated Carbon from Rubber Fruit Shell Prepared by Using ZnCl2 and KOH Activation
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 3994; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11093994 - 28 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 522
Abstract
Fine activated carbon (FAC) is prepared from rubber fruit shells (RFS) using two chemical activating agents (ZnCl2 and KOH) and three impregnation ratios (1:3, 1:4, and 1:5). The Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) results show that for a constant impregnation ratio, the ZnCl2 activating [...] Read more.
Fine activated carbon (FAC) is prepared from rubber fruit shells (RFS) using two chemical activating agents (ZnCl2 and KOH) and three impregnation ratios (1:3, 1:4, and 1:5). The Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) results show that for a constant impregnation ratio, the ZnCl2 activating agent yields a higher specific surface area than the KOH agent. In particular, for the maximum impregnation ratio of 1:5, the FAC prepared using ZnCl2 has a BET surface area of 456 m2/g, a nitrogen absorption capacity of 150.38 cm3/g, and an average pore size of 3.44 nm. Moreover, the FAC structure consists of 70.1% mesopores and has a carbon content of 80.05 at.%. Overall, the results confirm that RFS, activated using an appropriate quantity of ZnCl2, provides a cheap, abundant, and highly promising precursor material for the preparation of activated carbon with high carbon content and good adsorption properties Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composts and Organic Wastes: Analytical Methods and Applications)
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Review

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Review
Thermogravimetry Applicability in Compost and Composting Research: A Review
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 1692; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11041692 - 13 Feb 2021
Viewed by 609
Abstract
Composting could be a suitable solution to the correct treatment and hygienization of several organic waste, producing compost that can be used in agriculture. The evolution and maturity of this process has been studied using a variety of techniques. One very promising technique [...] Read more.
Composting could be a suitable solution to the correct treatment and hygienization of several organic waste, producing compost that can be used in agriculture. The evolution and maturity of this process has been studied using a variety of techniques. One very promising technique for these studies is thermogravimetric analysis. On the other hand, the compost can be used for a variety of purposes different to the agricultural one, such as direct energy by combustion or energy and products by pyrolysis and its suitability can be measured by thermogravimetric techniques. With these goals, a bibliographic analysis has been done, applying Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses PRISMA methodology, to the use of thermogravimetric equipment applied to the study of composting and compost uses. According to the methodology for PRISMA systematic reviews, the following databases have been searched Google Scholar, Web of Science, Mendeley, Microsoft Academic, World Wide Science, Science Direct, IEEE Xplore, Springer Link, Scopus, and PubMed by using the terms “thermogravimetry AND (compost OR composting) AND NOT plastic”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composts and Organic Wastes: Analytical Methods and Applications)
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