Exploring the promoting effect of nitrilotriacetic acid on hydroxyl radical and humification during magnetite-amended composting of sewage sludge

Bioresour Technol. 2024 Jul:403:130863. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2024.130863. Epub 2024 May 19.


The OH production by adding magnetite (MGT) alone has been reported in composting. However, the potential of nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) addition for magnetite-amended sludge composting remained unclear. Three treatments with different addition [control check (CK); T1: 5 % MGT; T2: 5 % MGT + 5 % NTA] were investigated to characterize hydroxyl radical, humification and bacterial community response. The NTA addition manifested the best performance, with the peak OH content increase by 52 % through facilitating the cycle of Fe(Ⅱ)/Fe(Ⅲ). It led to the highest organic matters degradation (22.3 %) and humic acids content (36.1 g/kg). Furthermore, NTA addition altered bacterial community response, promoting relative abundances of iron-redox related genera, and amino acid metabolism but decreasing carbohydrate metabolism. Structural equation model indicated that temperature and Streptomyces were the primary factors affecting OH content. The study suggests that utilizing chelators is a promising strategy to strengthen humification in sewage sludge composting with adding iron-containing minerals.

Keywords: Chelator; Humus; Iron redox cycle; Lignocellulose degradation; Microbial community.

MeSH terms

  • Composting* / methods
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide* / chemistry
  • Humic Substances*
  • Hydroxyl Radical*
  • Iron / chemistry
  • Nitrilotriacetic Acid* / chemistry
  • Sewage*


  • Nitrilotriacetic Acid
  • Humic Substances
  • Sewage
  • Hydroxyl Radical
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide
  • Iron