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Effects of wood ash-based alkaline treatment on nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus availability in food waste and agro-industrial waste digestates

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/06/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>waste and biomass valorization journal
Issue number6
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)3355-3370
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date27/08/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Handling of food waste and agro-industrial waste digestates, and fly and bottom wood ashes represents an economic and environmental problem for society and industries where they are produced due to the requirement of large capacity storage facilities with special conditions. Since both materials contain important nutrients for crops, two different blending combinations were examined as potential slow-release fertilizers to enhance the circular economy. High share of biomass ashes were selected aiming the chemical alkaline stabilization of the digestates. The concentrations of nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus in the water-soluble extract of the blends, which was obtained by adding ten parts of milli-Q® per each part of sample and subsequent solid-liquid separation, were measured during a 10-hour incubation at 22 ºC and 100 rpm. The volatilization of ammonia was the main route of losing nitrogen, with the greatest rate of volatilization at the time of blending and approximately 50 mg NH3-N/kg blend/hour by the end of the incubation. The hydrolysis taking place at alkaline pH was found responsible of the conversion of organic nitrogen to ammoniacal nitrogen and of the increase of the amount of water-soluble carbon, which rose progressively during the incubation. The release of CO2 was prevented by the high pH (> 10) of the blends. The drop in the concentration of water-soluble orthophosphate at the time of preparing the mixtures was driven by adsorption onto the ashes. The desorption of some of the orthophosphate was found to be inversely related to the amount of ashes added to the digestates.