Investigation of biochar amendments on odor reduction and their characteristics during food waste co-composting

Sci Total Environ. 2023 Mar 20:865:161128. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.161128. Epub 2022 Dec 29.


The odor emission such as ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) during the composting process is a severe problem that adversely affects the environment and human health. Therefore, this study aimed to (1) evaluate the variation of physicochemical characteristics during the co-composting of food waste, and sawdust mixed biochar; (2) assess the efficiency of biochar-composting combined amendment materials for reducing odor emissions and their maturity. The raw materials including food waste (FW), straw dust (SD), and biochar (BC) were prepared and homogeneously mixed with the weight ranging from 120.0 kg to 135.8 kg with five treatments, BC0 (Control), BC1 (5 % biochar), BC2 (5 % distilled water washed biochar), BC3 (10 % biochar), BC4 (20 % biochar). Adding biochar could change physicochemical properties such as temperature, moisture, and pH during composting. The results indicated applying biochar-composting covering to minimalized NH3 and H2S aided by higher porous structure and surface functional groups. Among trials, biochar 20 % obtained the lowest NH3 (2 ppm) and H2S (3 ppm) emission on day 16 and stopping their emission on day 17. The NH3/NH4+ adsorption on large specific surface areas and highly porous micro-structure of biochar lead to reduced nitrogen losses, while nitrification (NH4+ ➔ NO2- ➔ NO3-) may also contribute to nitrogen retention. The H2S concentration decreased with increasing the biochar proportion, suggesting that biochar could reduce the H2S emission. Correlation analysis illustrated that temperature, moisture, and oxygen are the most critical factors affecting H2S and NH3 emissions (p <0.05). The physicochemical properties and seed germination index indicated that the compost was mature without phytotoxicity. These novelty findings illustrated that the biochar amendment is an effective solution to reduce odor emission and enhances the maturity of compost mixture, which is promising to approach in real-scale conditions and could apply in agricultural fields.

Keywords: Ammonia emission; Gaseous emission; Hydrogen sulfide; Nitrogen loss; Organic waste recirculation.

MeSH terms

  • Charcoal / chemistry
  • Composting*
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Manure
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Odorants / prevention & control
  • Refuse Disposal*
  • Soil / chemistry


  • biochar
  • Soil
  • Manure
  • Charcoal
  • Nitrogen