Heavy Metals in Fly Ash as a Factor Limiting Its Use in Fertilizing Composts

Maciej Malarski, Piotr Wichowski, Justyna Czajkowska

Composting enables the recycling of significant amounts of biodegradable waste, while ensuring its disposal. The addition of fly ash increases the concentration of fertilizing substances in the compost. Compost is a source of many nutrients for plants. The addition of fly ash might also cause a slower release of these nutrients into an aqueous solution, meeting the fertilization needs of plants over a longer period of time. Tests were carried out using sewage sludge (WWTP Piaseczno, 163,500 P.E.), straw as a structure-forming material and fly ash (WWTP Krakow, 780,000 P.E.). The compost obtained in the research was analyzed in terms of environmental conditions specified in legal regulations. The most favorable compost mass density (520 kg/L) and the amount of air supplied to the process (5.0 L/(h∙kg d.m.)) were determined. The addition of fly ash to the compost mass did not significantly affect the temperature distribution obtained in the process. The increase in fly ash content increased the pH of the compost mass and was associated with higher nitrogen losses. It was found that the factor which may limit the possibility of using fly ash as a compost substrate is the presence of higher concentrations of heavy metals, especially chromium. It was determined that the maximum addition of fly ash to the compost mass was 154 kg d.m.ash/(ton d.m.straw+sludge).

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