Monitoring of volatile compound emissions during dry anaerobic digestion of the Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste by Proton Transfer Reaction Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry

Bioresour Technol. 2012 Dec;126:254-65. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2012.09.033. Epub 2012 Sep 24.


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) formed during anaerobic digestion of aerobically pre-treated Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste (OFMSW), have been monitored over a 30 day period by a direct injection mass spectrometric technique: Proton Transfer Reaction Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (PTR-ToF-MS). Most of the tentatively identified compounds exhibited a double-peaked emission pattern which is probably the combined result from the volatilization or oxidation of the biomass-inherited organic compounds and the microbial degradation of organic substrates. Of the sulfur compounds, hydrogen sulfide had the highest accumulative production. Alkylthiols were the predominant sulfur organic compounds, reaching their maximum levels during the last stage of the process. H(2)S formation seems to be influenced by the metabolic reactions that the sulfur organic compounds undergo, such as a methanogenesis induced mechanism i.e. an amino acid degradation/sulfate reduction. Comparison of different batches indicates that PTR-ToF-MS is a suitable tool providing information for rapid in situ bioprocess monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Biofuels / analysis
  • Biomass
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Cities*
  • Italy
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Methane / analysis
  • Organic Chemicals / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen / analysis
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Protons*
  • Solid Waste / analysis*
  • Sulfur / analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*
  • Volatilization


  • Biofuels
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Protons
  • Solid Waste
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Sulfur
  • Methane
  • Oxygen