Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 www.elsevier.



Physical modelling of the composting environment: A review. Part 1: Reactor systems
I.G. Mason *, M.W. Milke
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand Accepted 21 January 2005 Available online 25 March 2005

Abstract In this paper, laboratory- and pilot-scale reactors used for investigation of the composting process are described and their characteristics and application reviewed. Reactor types were categorised by the present authors as fixed-temperature, self-heating, controlled temperature difference and controlled heat flux, depending upon the means of management of heat flux through vessel walls. The review indicated that fixed-temperature reactors have significant applications in studying reaction rates and other phenomena, but may self-heat to higher temperatures during the process. Self-heating laboratory-scale reactors, although inexpensive and uncomplicated, were shown to typically suffer from disproportionately large losses through the walls, even with substantial insulation present. At pilot scale, however, even moderately insulated self-heating reactors are able to reproduce wall losses similar to those reported for full-scale systems, and a simple technique for estimation of insulation requirements for self-heating reactors is presented. In contrast, controlled temperature difference and controlled heat flux laboratory reactors can provide spatial temperature differentials similar to those in full-scale systems, and can simulate full-scale wall losses. Surface area to volume ratios, a significant factor in terms of heat loss through vessel walls, were estimated by the present authors at 5.0–88.0 m2/m3 for experimental composting reactors and 0.4–3.8 m2/m3 for full-scale systems. Non-thermodynamic factors such as compression, sidewall airflow effects, channelling and mixing may affect simulation performance and are discussed. Further work to investigate wall effects in composting reactors, to obtain more data on horizontal temperature profiles and rates of biological heat production, to incorporate compressive effects into experimental reactors and to investigate experimental systems employing natural ventilation is suggested. Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction Composting has been described as a high-solids aerobic degradation process (VanderGheynst et al., 1997a) and is typically characterised by attainment and extended maintenance of thermophilic temperatures and the production of a stabilised, agriculturally beneficial product (Haug, 1993). Many studies of the composting process have been reported in the literature and authors have frequently chosen to work at either laboratory or pilot scale when conducting their investigations. Exper-


Corresponding author. Tel.: +64 3 366 7001; fax: +64 3 364 2758. E-mail address: ian.mason@canterbury.ac.nz (I.G. Mason).

iments at less than full scale can allow a high degree of control and replication, whilst employing relatively small quantities of materials and other resources. However, laboratory- and pilot-scale systems may not always represent full-scale composting conditions and, in particular, the magnitude and duration of temperature and moisture profiles. Full-scale composting experimentation, on the other hand, can be both expensive and difficult to control (Hogan et al., 1989; Chalaux et al., 1991) and may limit replication and reproducibility. In fact a full-scale situation is frequently less than ideal since operational practices may vary widely, both from site to site and within a site, and are rarely formalised or consistently applied (Hogan et al., 1989). Furthermore, costs and risks associated with process failures

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I.G. Mason, M.W. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500

can be high (Elwell et al., 1996). Desired procedures and parameters may be modified to suit non-experimental commercial criteria, whilst finished material may disappear to commercial outlets prior to the completion of the experiment. Quantification of important gas phase parameters, including oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapour and ammonia concentrations, is problematic, particularly in windrow and positive pressure aerated static pile formats. Control of boundary conditions is more difficult or impossible at full scale and raw material type and quality may vary seasonally, making repeatability difficult or impossible. In laboratory- or pilot-scale experimentation, an increase in control over process conditions is typically accompanied by a certain loss of the ‘‘reality’’ which is inherent at full scale. This is particularly relevant to the composting process, where heat transfer and fluid flow considerations are of critical importance. In order to adequately represent the full-scale composting process at laboratory and pilot level, appropriate ‘‘scaledown’’ techniques are therefore required. Thermodynamic factors affecting the generation and transfer of heat in the composting system are of over-riding importance (Hogan et al., 1989) because of their effect on biological activity, moisture and water vapour transport, natural ventilation, volatilisation, oxygen status and temperature distribution patterns. Therefore, it may be expected that an experimental system capable of simulating the thermodynamic regime of a full-scale composting environment should enable reproduction of many other aspects of full-scale behaviour. Non-thermodynamic factors, such as mixture compression and spatial airflow patterns, can also be important, potentially influencing both the thermodynamic regime and other state variables. In order to simulate a particular type of full-scale system, variations in aeration methods, plus the presence or absence of ventilative heat management (VHM), mixing and in-process moisture addition need to be incorporated at the laboratory- or pilot-scale level. In this review we propose that, because the terms laboratory-scale and pilot-scale are widely used in the literature, it would be useful to define them in relation to composting experimental practice. Whilst any such categorisation will be somewhat arbitrary, it is proposed that laboratory-scale composting reactors may be generally identified as those with a volume <100 l and a surface area to volume (SA:V) ratio >10:1, whilst pilot-scale reactors may be classified as those with a volume of 100–2000 l and a SA:V ratio in the range of 4–10. In practical terms, reactor volume will have implications in terms of bench space, reactor cost and materials handling issues, whilst the SA:V ratio range will significantly influence the control of heat flux through the reactor walls. The objective of this review is to examine the physical modelling approaches reported in the literature and

to discuss their relevance to composting research, particularly in relation to simulation of the full-scale environment. This discussion has potential implications for planning and conducting composting experiments, for reporting experimental methods and for interpreting, and scaling-up from, laboratory- and pilot-scale information. The paper begins with an outline of the thermodynamic framework for analysis of a composting system, followed by a discussion of the various reactor formats, their applications and limitations. Aeration and physical factors are then addressed, followed by a discussion of how various full-scale composting environments may be simulated at laboratory and pilot scale. 2. Thermodynamic framework The conceptual heat energy balance for a composting system can be written as follows: accumulation ¼ input À output Æ transformation: ð1Þ Here, the accumulation term refers to the sensible heating or cooling of the composting material during the process, the inputs are enthalpy in the incoming air and incoming radiation, the outputs are enthalpy in the exit gas, including latent heat of evaporation of water contained in exiting water vapour, and wall losses, and the transformation (reaction) term refers to biologically generated heat (Fig. 1). In mathematical terms the expression may be written as follows: dðmcT Þ dBVS ¼ GH i À GH o À UAðT À T a Þ þ Hc dt dt ð2Þ

where m is the mass of composting materials (kg), c the specific heat of compost mixture (kJ/kg °C), T, Ta the temperature of the compost mixture and ambient air (°C), t the time (s), G the mass flux of dry air (kg/s), Hi,o the enthalpy of inlet (i) and outlet (o) air (kJ/kg), U the overall heat transfer coefficient (kW/m2 °C), A the heat transfer area (m2), BVS the biodegradable volatile solids (kg), and Hc the heat of combustion (kJ/kgBVS removed). Whilst the term ‘‘conduction’’ is commonly used in the composting literature when referring to wall losses, the heat transfer mechanisms of convection, conduction and radiation should be all considered when assessing heat transport at composting reactor system boundaries. In fact, mathematical models of the composting process typically include the overall heat transfer coefficient (U), which enables conductive, convective, and radiative heat losses to be lumped together. This approach has the advantage of allowing bulk fluid, or solid, temperatures to be used in heat transfer calculations (Appendix). In this paper we have therefore adopted the term

self heating or adiabatic. convective/conductive/radiative (CCR) when describing heat losses across reactor system boundaries (excluding those arising from advective heat transport). Values of SA:V for a range of full-scale systems were estimated by the present authors at between 0. M. including mixing.4:1 and 3. Base or ground contact area was included as part of the total surface area for these calculations. this review. These reactors may be mixed or unmixed.8:1 m2/m3 (Table 2). Reactor categories and their formal definitions are presented in Table 1. . are discussed separately later in the paper. Schematic representation of a composting heat balance. although this should be treated separately from the other surfaces in heat flux calculations. then reactor formats are described and their applications and limitations discussed. and have relatively low SA:V ratios. Reactor formats 3. (1983) classified reactors thermodynamically as fixed temperature. and we propose the addition of a fourth category termed ‘‘controlled heat flux (CHF)’’.1. 3. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 483 Fig. In the following sub-sections. Finstein et al. 1. whilst Ashbolt and Line (1982) further grouped reactors according to whether periodic mixing or agitation was used. Mason. The term ‘‘conductive’’ will only be used when quoting directly from published material.and pilot-scale composting units may be observed in the literature. In Full-scale composting reactors and piles normally exceed 5 m3 in volume.W. Aeration and physical factors.2. with system boundaries drawn around the outer walls of the composting reactor.G. reactor capacity and surface area to volume ratio information is given. The means of management of the CCR heat flux across reactor walls provides a basis for consideration of the types of reactor used in composting research. with the category ‘‘controlled temperature difference (CTD)’’. and this matter is addressed in the following section. Capacity and surface area: volume ratios 3. Introduction A number of approaches to the design and operation of laboratory. we propose replacement of the category ‘‘adiabatic’’.I.

Mason.0–7.4 to 2000 l (Tables 3 and 4).2–3.4 Dimensions from Haug (1993). 1995.7–6.7 (Tables 3 and 4).W.67–1. (2001) utilised heating and cooling of separate streams of exit gas from a reactor to maintain temperatures at a fixed level. 1999). (1990a) Self heating (SH) After Campbell et al.5:1 to 88.0 50.5 3 3. .0–3. those reactors identified as pilot-scale generally had SA:V ratios ranging from 5.1 3.4–3. Roy et al. Smars et al. 1995. with volumes typically between 0. in which a desired temperature is imposed by means of external heating or cooling and the process is maintained and studied at or about that temperature.. 1998. plus parts of the air line. following a period of initial self-heating. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 Definition A reactor in which a desired composting temperature is imposed and maintained by means of external heating or cooling A reactor relying solely on microbial heat production to reach and maintain process temperatures and having no temperature control besides some external insulation A reactor relying solely on microbial heat production to reach and maintain process temperatures and where CCR heat losses are controlled by supplying heat to the outer surface of the vessel in order to maintain a pre-determined temperature difference across the composting material and/or the reactor wall(s) A reactor relying solely on microbial heat production to reach and maintain process temperatures and where CCR heat losses are controlled by supplying heat to the outer surface of the vessel in order to maintain a pre-determined heat flux across the reactor walls(s) Reference After Campbell et al.5 14 Height or depth (m) – 8 3. Tseng et al..and pilot-scale reactors have ranged in volume from 0. was controlled using an incubator. these reactors have been used for a broad range of studies (Table 5). M. Laboratory-scale experimental units. laboratory reactor SA:V ratios can be one to two orders of magnitude greater than those for full-scale systems.c Siloa a b c Width or diameter (m) 1. This modification permits the determination of the relationships of these variables with other aspects of composting behaviour. 1995..g. Such profiles may deliberately mimic the temperature profile of a full-scale system (e. Negro and Solano. while maintaining relatively fixed temperature. In comparison.0 16 Length (m) 11–18 3 13. Kithome et al. Kithome et al. In a differ˚ ent approach. Thus.0 – SA:V (m2/m3) 2. Although criticised for possibly creating artificial or unrealistic conditions (Sikora et al.6 0.8 1. Joyce et al.484 Table 1 Reactor formats and definitions Format Fixed temperature (FT) I.3.G. moisture and bulk air oxygen concentrations. 1983). 1997.4 and 50 l.5 0. 3.0 to 12.. Michel et al. ASP = aerated static pile. 1993.. several investigators have developed systems in which the imposed temperature may be varied with time according to pre-determined profiles (Michel et al..0 – 1.13 1. More recently..0:1 m2/m3 (Table 3).24 1.8–3. (1990a) Controlled temperature difference (CTD) – Controlled heat flux (CHF) – Table 2 Surface area to volume ratios in full-scale composting systems Type Agitated drum (horizontal flow) Tower (vertical flow) Bin (horizontal flow)a Rotating druma Windrowb/ASPb.4–122 55. In contrast.. laboratory. were found by the present authors to have SA:V ratios ranging from 14. 1993. 2 shows an example of a fixed-temperature reactor system. Fig. A significant modification to fixed-temperature systems was reported by Tseng et al.. 1999).7 3. The heated stream and a proportion of the cooled stream were reintroduced into the composting reactor in order to control the temperature. have been frequently employed in composting research (Table 5). Fixed-temperature reactors Fixed-temperature reactors. in which the temperature of the reactor. 1 cm) layers of composting material. For trapezoidal section piles with ends at 45° slopes. 1996. (1995) who used a series of trays with thin (ca.

1 11. otherwise volume and SA:V values were calculated from the overall dimensions.3 26. c A horizontally mounted reactor. (2000) After Lehmann et al.5 29. (2003) After Choi et al. (1987) After VanderGheynst and Lei (2003) After Schloss et al. Hansen et al.and pilot-scale reactorsa Diameter (mm) 62–75 100 100 108 140 140 150 160 160 170 180 200 200 200 203 210 210 250 250 260 300 300 300 300 300 305 340 381 400 400 570 600 600 630 660 750 910 910 1800 a 485 Height (mm) 120 250 600 290 240 500 230 190 420 220 240 250 520 600 310 305 450 455 483e 300e 400 425d 470 1000 1200 1110 2200 495 850 1600 760 800 2700 2000 585d.3 18 17. (1992) Namkoong and Hwang (1997) After Sikora et al.6 15. (1984) After Bach et al. (1994) (i) Reactors were either described as. (ii) SA includes all surfaces.4 2 4. b As reported by the authors.4 7.3 15 14. (1993) After van Bochove et al. (2000a.7 2.9 36. (1998) After Cronje et al.3 70.3 9. (1995) After Hogan et al. (2002) Leth et al. (1999) After Loser et al.4 35. or assumed to be.9 16. (1983) After Palmisano et al.4 22. Relevant applications include the study of reaction rates. (1989) After Komilis and Ham (2000) After Schulze (1962) After Bach et al. cylindrical.5 20. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 Table 3 Surface area to volume ratios for selected cylindrical laboratory.0 6. .4 119 201 186 226 760 620 200 442 605 1190 1780 SA:V (m2/m3) 88. (1994).7 4. d Calculated from diameter and volume data.6 15.0 6. (iii) plenum and headspace heights were subtracted where this was information included. (2001)c After Elwell et al.3 15.8 9.7 14. (2002) Seymour et al.2 7. (2001) After Barrington et al. 2000b) After Das et al.6 22. (1994) Where the research objective is to take ‘‘snapshots’’ of the composting process at a particular temperature.9 12.6 35.3 30 33.W. (1998) After McCartney and Chen (2001) After Hamelers (1993) After Loser et al.8 23. (1993) After Seki (2000) Magalhaes et al.1 3.1 b Type CTD CTD SH SH/CTD FT SH CTD FT CTD FT SH CTD SH SH CTD CTD CHF FT SH FT SH SH SH CTD SH SH SH SH SH SH SH CTD SH SH SH SH SH SH SH Reference Magalhaes et al. (2001) After Papadimitriou and Balis (1996) After Freeman and Cawthon (1999) After Schwab et al.8 32.7 56.6 30.7 28. (1993) After Sikora and Sowers (1985) After Day et al.8 8. Table 4 Surface area to volume ratios for selected rectangular section pilot-scale reactors Width (mm) 950 1000 1000 1000 1030 Length (mm) 950 1000 1000 1200 1030 Height (mm) 1090 1000 2000 700 1820 Volume (l) 985 1000 2000 840 1931 SA:V (m2/m3) 6. M.1 20.3 9.0 Type SH SH SH SH SH Reference After After After After After Pecchia et al.7 84.5 5.9 23.6 23. then a fixed-temperature system is appropriate and offers a relatively cheap option.8 10 10.3 43.3 6. and Nakasaki et al. (1987).5 7. with an internal auger for materials mixing and transport. (1999) After Mote and Griffis (1979) After Ashbolt and Line (1982) After Beaudin et al.1 199.7 3.5 5.4 5 6.6 28 23. (1997a) After Sundberg and Jonsson (2003) After VanderGheynst and Lei (2003) After Leth et al.1 7. (1999) After Stombaugh and Nokes (1996) After Bari et al. (1989).1 18.2 25. (2003) After VanderGheynst et al.7 7.9 32.0 5. temperature optima.e 1000 930 1830e 700 Volume (l) 0.5 12. (2001) Veeken et al. rather than following the dynamics of the process. Mason.I. and Hong et al.G.3 18. (2001) van Lier et al. (1996) After Bono et al.0 48 43.8 81.5 5. e Length of a horizontally mounted rotating drum.

.. the degradation of specific compounds and the study of exit gas composition.W. Both reactor size (Tables 3 and 4) and insulation specifications have varied widely. was operated inside a box constructed from 400 mm thick ‘‘Styrofoam’’ material. and having no temperature control besides some external insulation (Campbell et al. 1993). (1990b). Campbell et al. (1991) Suler and Finstein (1977). Choi et al. 2000. (1991). (1995. Thus. placed between their reactor and an outer sheet steel cover. kinetic parameters.4. Veeken et al. Substrate compostability studies are defined as: ‘‘the assessment. (1997). 1997.7 to 120 mm (Table 7). Smith et al.. (1992). Fixed temperature reactor (from Michel et al. whilst the reactor described by Bach et al. 2001. Chalaux et al. (1976). Michel et al. Hamelers (1993) Clark et al. Herrmann and Shann... Namkoong and Hwang. Qiao and Ho. (2000) Clark et al. Kithome et al. in which exit gas Table 5 Uses of fixed-temperature laboratory-scale reactors Major focus of study Apparatus development Exit gas composition/odour studies Fate of specific compounds including toxics Microbial enumeration/survival Mathematical model validation Optimum temperature determination Preparation of compost for further evaluation Process evaluationa Reference Cappaert et al. 2. Joyce et al. Bono et al. 2001). (1998). (1998) Strom (1985). Razvi and Kramer (1996). Jackson and Line (1997). (1999) Substrate compostabilityb Process evaluation is defined as: ‘‘the measurement of reaction rates. 1999). Clark et al. Itavaara and Vikman (1996). and mathematical modelling related data’’. 2003). (1995) incorporates such compost temperature monitoring. The CTD reactor described by Magalhaes et al.78 cm foil-faced polystyrene. 1990a). 2001. Huang et al. 3. He et al.. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 microbiological activity. (2001) described an interesting but more complex variation on VHM. polystyrene. Brown et al. et al. Ashbolt and Line (1982). b a . Self-heating reactors have been extensively employed in composting research.54 cm fibreglass. 1997. mineral wool. Seymour et al. Fixed-temperature reactors may. but supplied no details of the type or thickness used (Papadimitriou and Balis. with a dual flowrate forced aeration system.G. Campbell et al. (1987). (1992). Clark et al. Chalaux et al. monitoring of internal temperatures will be important in order to allow any departures to be taken into account. (2001) used sawdust. Das and Tollner. Bach et al. polyurethane and proprietary materials. 1997. is shown in Fig. especially for process evaluation and substrate compostability applications (Table 6). (1990b)}. (1978). 1999. Insulation materials have included glass wool. self-heat and cause process temperatures to exceed the imposed temperature. 2001.. with thicknesses ranging from 12. (2000).. whilst heat removal from a self-heating composting system. Mason. Self-heating reactors A self-heating reactor may be defined as a reactor relying solely on microbial heat production to obtain process temperatures.. (1984).. 1987). An example of an insulated pilot-scale self-heating reactor. (1977). plus insulation caps covered with three layers of 1. Richard and Walker (1998). (1993). M. Finstein et al. Fraser and Lau. and subsequently 50 mm urethane sheeting. (1994). has also been documented (Viel et al.. 1997. Smet et al. Smet Fig. Choi and Park (1998) Kishimoto et al. 1989. Several other authors have indicated the presence of insulation. (1993) had walls insulated with 2. (1985). including investigation of the effects of feed conditioning and additives’’. 1985. Das et al. (1990b). 1999. VHM has been employed to control peak temperatures in self-heating reactors by a number of authors (Nakasaki et al. In addition to the use of insulation to minimise CCR losses. Hansen et al. 3. Ashbolt and Line (1982) Michel and Reddy (1998). Additionally. Noble et al. The apparatus described by Tseng et al. Elwell et al. Libmond and Savoie (1993). Freeman and Cawthon. using a water jacket heat exchanger.486 I. Namkoong et al. Komilis and Ham (2000) Kaplan and Kaplan (1982). (1983) {as cited by Campbell et al. (1999). (1999) Suler and Finstein (1977). Bono et al. Polyurethane panels (thickness not specified) were used to insulate the reactor system described by van Lier et al. Hamelers (1993). 1996. Michel et al. however. of the suitability of raw material mixtures for conversion to compost. 1998. Kithome et al. Silviera and Ganho (1995). (1978). Michel and Reddy (1998). by using a composting process. (1978). Rajbanshi and Inubushi (1997). although not insulated directly.

(1994). we estimate.G. the discussion of which is outside the scope of this review. approximately 180 mm and 620 mm thicknesses of this insulation would be required. M.I.. The estimated overall ratio in this case was 19. self-heating in these reactors raised process temperatures well above these controlled ambient values.. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 487 Fig.8 days using a finite-difference steady-state approach and data of van Lier et al. suggesting that the simple instantaneous peak temperature approach will in fact provide a realistic guide to overall CCR loss:biological heat ratios and associated insulation requirements. Self-heating reactor (from Hansen et al.W. Relevant equations for steady-state heat transfer across and from cylinder surfaces are given in the Appendix. assuming the data listed in Table 8. For a 5 mm PVC-walled laboratory reactor measuring 210 mm in internal diameter and 450 mm in height. requires a dynamic mathematical modelling approach. Precise prediction of the temperature/time profile for a given selfheating composting reactor. 1997. and a specified ratio of CCR losses to biological heat output. the instantaneous calculations were then compared to the ratio of integrated CCR losses to total biological heat production for the same system over 7. In several cases authors have controlled the ambient temperature of the reactor environment at 30– 40 °C (Palmisano et al. Schloss et al. 3. or plateau. a ratio of instantaneous CCR losses to peak biological heat production of 18. and therefore CCR losses. Peak biological heat values may vary considerably. for example ensuring that temperatures exceed 55 °C for either 3 or 15 days (USEPA. 1998. an estimate of the requirements for reactor insulation may be made by assuming steady-state conditions. However. as indicated by a range of 20–28 W/kg-DM reported .7%. In contrast to the fixed-temperature mode of operation. with a peak. and insulated with 73 mm polyurethane. a selected rate of biological heat output. 1989). It can also be shown that in order to limit CCR heat losses to 10% and 5% of the peak biological heat production rate. Namkoong and Hwang. and then reintroduced into the reactor. 2000). An example of the application of these models to the estimation of CCR losses and insulation requirements is now given. design temperature. In order to assess the validity of this approach over an extended period..0%. however. 1995). 1993. Day et al. was passed over a waterbath.. The peak or plateau region of the temperature/time curve is important in terms of assessing ability to meet regulatory disinfection related criteria. Mason.

(1998). Ekinci et al. severe practical limitations are indicated when relying upon insulation alone in order to simulate full-scale heat loss conditions in a self- heating reactor. Seymour et al. Garcia-Gomez et al. (2002). by Mote and Griffis (1982). Hong et al. (1997b).. Day et al. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 Table 6 Uses of self-heating laboratory. Day et al. Helfrich et al. Korolewicz et al. (1998). (1996). Huang et al. (1990a). (1993). Papadimitriou and Balis (1996). Schloss et al. Barrington et al. Seki (2000) Herrmann and Shann (1997). (2002) Itavaara and Vikman (1996). Keener et al. (1996). (2002) Bari et al. Wiles et al. (2001). (1999).5 m2 °C/W – 0. and mathematical modelling related data’’.4a 50 50 50 50 50 57 73 75 76 100 100 120 Thermal properties – 10. (1997a). Thermal conductivity values for commonly used insulation and reactor construction materials are readily available in the literature (e. Sundberg and Jonsson (2003) Deschamps et al. (1989) Campbell et al.G. (1998). Hogan et al. (1998). At pilot scale however the problem is greatly diminished and whilst design insulation requirements may sometimes be greater than . Elwell et al. (2001). (1979). and a maximum value of 38 W/kg-VS reported by Harper et al. Lau et al. (1998) Hansen et al. Lau et al. VanderGheynst et al. (2002). (2002) Fate of specific compounds including toxics Mathematical model validation Microbial enumeration/survival Preparation of compost for further evaluation Process evaluationa Substrate compostabilityb Process evaluation is defined as: ‘‘the measurement of reaction rates. van Lier et al. (2000). Thus. (1996). Brown et al. (1997).7 25. Pecchia et al. Mason. (1989). (2000) Bach et al.. Schwab et al. (2002). Palmisano et al. (1998). Smet et al. Ouatmane et al. (2000). Stombaugh and Nokes (1996). Veeken et al.Loser et al. Eiland et al. (1999). Elwell et al. (1987). (2002). (1989) Witter and Lopez-Real (1988). (2002) VanderGheynst et al. including investigation of the effects of feed conditioning and additives’’. Minkara et al. (2000a. (2001). The inability of insulation to practically permit simulation of core conditions at laboratory scale was discussed by Hogan et al. (2001). Krzymien et al. (2001) Nakasaki et al. 1987). Elwell et al. at high SA:V ratios. Leth et al. Elwell et al. Day et al. Freeman and Cawthon (1999). 2000b) Day et al. (2001). (1992).036 W/m °C – 9. (1994). Values of UA and U may also be determined experimentally (e. (1994). Hong et al. (2002). (1998). VanderGheynst and Lei (2003) Adani et al. (1992). Campbell et al. (2001). Dinel et al.. 1995). Boelens et al. (1997a) VanderGheynst and Lei (2003) Schulze (1962) Loser et al. (2001). (1997).036 W/m °C Reference Park et al.3 · 10À5 cal/s. M. Seki (2000) Leth et al. b a Table 7 Reported insulation data for self-heating reactors Material Polystyrene – ‘‘Styrofoam’’ ‘‘Kaiflex’’ Polystyrene ‘‘Rockwool’’ mats Glass wool Polystyrene Polyurethane foam Expanded polystyrene ‘‘Foam insulation’’ Mineral wool Polyurethane Glass wool a Thickness (mm) 10 12. kinetic parameters. 1987). (2002). (2003). Horiuchi et al. Substrate compostability studies are defined as: ‘‘the assessment. (2001).cm. VanderGheynst et al. (2002). Brown et al. (1998). (2001). (1998).488 I. Ekinci et al.g. Ekinci et al. VanderGheynst et al. Keener et al.5 K/W – – – – – 0. (2000a). of the suitability of raw material mixtures for conversion to compost. (1998). Elwell et al.W. (1998). Namkoong and Hwang (1997).°C – – 2. Choi et al. Elwell et al. Sharma et al. and with a temperature differential between the vessel surfaces and the surrounding air of 14 °C. Shaw et al. (2002). (1999). Larsen and McCartney (2000). (1989) who estimated that even with 3000 mm of insulation around their 15 l reactor. Bach et al. (1996). (1985. Das et al. (1999). Kaiser (1996). Park et al. (1979) Sundberg and Jonsson (2003) Adani et al. Bari et al. (1997) Sundberg and Jonsson (2003) Reported as 1 in. Elwell et al. Marugg et al. (2001) Barrington et al. Laos et al. (1994). (1998). Mohee et al. (2001) Hogan et al. (1999). (2001) Deschamps et al. by using a composting process.and pilot-scale reactors Major focus of study Apparatus development Exit gas composition/odour studies Reference Schulze (1962). Larsen and McCartney (2000). Mills. (1993). (1990a) Das et al. (1992). (1999).g. the instantaneous conductive flux would still be 50 times that occurring in a CHF system.

a core volume (Fig. indicating similarity of process conditions and degree of stabilisation within that region. and also that drying from metabolic heat may be less than would occur at larger scale (Hogan et al.G. 5) be identified on the basis of horizontal and vertical temperature profiles. which shows the estimated range of polyurethane insulation thicknesses required to maintain a steadystate CCR loss:biological heat ratio of 5% for cylindrical reactors with SA:V ratios varying between 3 and 50 under specified conditions. 1992). Table 8 Data used in example CCR loss to biological heat production ratio calculation Parameter Peak biological heat output Mixture dry bulk density Compost temperature Ambient temperature PVC thermal conductivity Polyurethane thermal conductivity Convective/radiative heat transfer coefficient a Units W/kg-TS kg/m3 °C °C W/m °C W/m °C W/m2 °C Value 11. (1992). be able to provide a suitable thermodynamic environment. 1992). (1994) – – – Mills (1995) Hogan et al. Mason. This would provide a suitable inner region for sampling and the interpretation of results. Insulation thickness vs SA:V ratio for self-heating reactors. Fig. 1989). a difference of about 4 °C.W. 150 mm radius. 1982) and 38 W/kg-VS (Harper et al. (1997a) in the absence of excessive drying and by Sundberg and Jonsson (2003) for 300 and 315 mm radius pilot-scale reactors. 4. laboratory-scale reactor. . 4. self-heating reactors at laboratory-scale appear to have limited application. was reported by Papadimitriou and Balis (1996). The impact of SA:V on insulation design is illustrated in Fig. As a further improvement to the experimental process. we propose that when using pilot scale. M. an indication of the minimum thickness of the insulating layer may be obtained by noting the specification of a 150 mm (6 in. (1989) – Other reported peak biological heat production rates include 20–28 W/kg-DM (Mote and Griffis. respectively. Whilst the boundaries of the core should be based on experimental data. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 489 historically used. whilst differences closer to 2 °C were found by both VanderGheynst et al. unmixed self-heating reactors.. and may therefore suffer from high radial temperature gradients and excessively high CCR losses via reactor walls. even when apparently substantial quantities of insulation are employed. with appropriate insulation. over an approximately 450 mm radius in an insulated pilotscale self-heating reactor. In terms of horizontal temperature gradients.092 0. Schloss et al. (1976) and Harper et al.I.0a 250 55 20 0. In such cases it may be anticipated that both heat accumulation and the length of the thermophilic phase will be shortened. plus other parameters such as moisture distribution if possible. since they have relatively large SA:V ratios. These values are similar to the full-scale reactor differences reported by Finger et al.039 10 Reference van Lier et al.) insulating layer of material such as peat or finished compost for full-scale aerated static piles (Rynk. and would indicate clearly that material subjected to non-representative conditions outside the core was not included.. Similar curves may be established for other reactor insulation materials and alternative steady-state conditions. In summary. they remain practically feasible. (2000) reported a 2 °C radial temperature difference for an insulated. Self-heating reactors at pilot scale have SA:V ratios closer to those in full-scale systems and may.

The authors described this system. 1993). 1990b). Cronje et al. whilst the system reported by McCartney and Chen (2001) was operated in both self-heating. or on calculated heat fluxes. 1988.5 and 0. for temperature-differential controlled systems have ranged from 0. Cook et al. 2001). van Bochove et al. 1996. (2003) also appear to be CTD reactors. 1960). Dao et al.. (1996a) fall into the CHF classification (although the latter provided few details of the control procedure used). rather than prevented. ‘‘controlled temperature difference (CTD)’’ and ‘‘controlled heat flux (CHF)’’. Therefore. (1993) also demonstrated differences in compost centre temperature profiles between reactors operated in CTD and self-heating modes. Cronje et al. 1985. 2003). Magalhaes et al. 1960). (1983).4 1 and 10 l capacity vessels used by Magalhaes et al. whilst Magalhaes et al. These reactors are not strictly adiabatic. Apparatus described by Fraser and Lau (2000) and Korner et al. 1971. to 1 °C (Cook et al. 1996a) appear to have been reported in the literature. 1983) to 0.. provide the basis for system design and operation. (2003) and Scholwin and Bidlingmaier (2003) fall into the CTD category. Heat input to the system may arise where the temperature differential is close to zero (Hogan et al. McCartney and Chen (2001). (1993).08 °C (Walker and Harrison. in the 10 l reactor (Fig. 1990b). or insulating medium. 2000. system control was apparently based on temperature difference only. (1993). Beaudin et al. since CCR heat flux is minimised. Additionally. (1995). This phenomenon has been demonstrated for a 0... to 0. Cronje et al. is shown in Fig. Stocks et al. although reports detailing application of the CTD concept date back to at least 1941 (Walker and Harrison. in which the temperature difference was controlled using a waterbath. Mason. Sikora et al. Bernal et al. McCartney and Chen. 3. with emphasis on an appropriate level of heat removal via the appropriate mechanism..G. 8)..5. .25 ± 0. and heat exchange will also occur advectively via the air stream. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 Fig. (1997). (1996). Campbell et al. Witter and Lopez-Real (1988). Ventilative heat management has been used as an additional temperature control mechanism in CTD systems (Sikora and Sowers.. as opposed to minimising CCR losses only. (1999). to 5 °C (Campbell et al. Although Magalhaes et al. 7)..490 I. rather than temperature differences. (1997). 1993. comprising an insulated 15 l vessel that was operated within a laboratory oven maintained at suitable temperatures. and to a lesser extent for a 10 l reactor (Fig. whilst the systems of Hogan et al. modes.8 °C (Sikora et al. with the objective of maintaining a minimal net outflow of heat. Beaudin et al. (1990b) cited errors in temperature measurements and the observed gradients within the reactor as dictating the magnitude of the differential. (1989) and Magalhaes et al.. Stocks et al. we have proposed the use of two new terms. and semi-continuous CTD. (1993) have used the term ‘‘controlled heat flux’’ in their paper. In a controlled heat flux system. to 1–5 °C (van Bochove et al..W. 0. (1989) and Atkinson et al. Only two CHF systems (Hogan et al. 1989) or lies within the error range of the sensing devices (Currie and Festenstein. Uses of CTD reactors (Table 9) have included many of the applications cited for selfheating reactors. These reactors have been less widely employed than either the fixed-temperature or self-heating formats. The external temperature of the reactor is typically maintained slightly below that of the composting material using a temperature feedback control system. (1990b). (2002). 2003). For both the 0. Atkinson et al. Campbell et al. 1994. 1989.. The system described by Cook et al. 2002..5 °C (Witter and Lopez-Real. Systems described by Walker and Harrison (1960). differences in CO2 production and dry matter loss between the two vessels were less pronounced with CTD operation. 6. CTD and CHF reactors The term Ôadiabatic reactorÕ has been used to describe a reactor using an external heat source to conserve heat generated by the composting process (Campbell et al. Bernal et al. The laboratoryscale composting system developed by Hogan et al. heat transport rates. (1989) was designed to dynamically control CCR losses in combination with deliberate ventilative heat control referenced to a temperature ceiling. Control in these systems may be based either on temperature differentials only. (1993) reported a control temperature differential of 0.001 °C. (1994). Lehmann et al. Cook et al. Reported temperature differentials between the composting material and wall. Hogan et al. (2001).. 5. M. A distinctive high temperature plateau was maintained. temperatures reached higher peaks and remained higher for longer periods with CTD operation. The objective was to mimic the structure of a full-scale system heat balance.. Fraser and Lau. as a ‘‘composting physical model’’.4 l reactor. 1995). (1993). Mote and Griffis (1979). for approximately 6 days. Magalhaes et al. Pile core volume schematic.

The introduction of reactors incorporating control of either temperature differentials or CCR heat flux via the maintenance of small. 1983. water removal patterns and aeration system operation in response to temperature feedback control. . indicating wall temperatures exceeding those in the compost centre. outward. 1997). In preliminary experiments. inlet and outlet conditions over a full 2–3 m airflow pathway in the field would thus be simulated in the 0. including oxygen and CO2 concentration profiles. Evenness of external heating is also an important consideration in CTD and CHF systems. surrounded by an air-filled outer chamber wrapped with a heating tape.I. can be seen in (c) and (d).W..G. Cook Fig. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 491 Fig. (1996a) who used a 28 l reactor comprising an inner vessel containing the compost mixture. 1993). CCR heat flux was purposely maintained at an essentially constant level. control based on temperature differentials only was reported to be less than ideal for managing CCR losses. The authors suggested that. Mason. One of the issues surrounding the design and operation of both CDT and CHF reactors is the maintenance of appropriate boundary condition values for temperature and we suggest that defining appropriate temperature differentials and horizontal gradients more extensively is an area worthy of further research. Uses of CHF reactors to date have been focused on apparatus development and substrate degradability studies (Table 9). although the gradient was much steeper. 1979. 7. Sikora et al. although the data presented indicated some degree of overshoot above this limit. M. WX: water addition. Mote and Griffis.4 m high laboratory core. In terms of qualitative behaviour. d) modes (from Magalhaes et al. the laboratory CHF and fullscale composting systems showed similar responses. 1960. CTD reactor using a heated water bath (from Cook et al. Temperature differentials between the compost centre and reactor wall in SH (a. The CHF concept was subsequently employed by Atkinson et al. Heat fluxes were calculated separately for the cylinder wall and two end plates and then totalled. 6. Ventilative heat management was also used in this system in order to limit temperatures to <55 °C.4% of the heat evolved over a 10 day period.. given highly humid inlet air. since the fluxes through each of the three segments of the cylinder (side wall and two end plates) were different. negative temperature gradients across the reactor walls has provided the opportunity to more closely simulate the dynamics of a full-scale composting process at laboratory scale. b) and CTD (CHFC) (c. depending upon changes in the vertical temperature gradient in the system. The earlier CTD reactors were completely immersed in water (Walker and Harrison. Positive differentials.. The authors stated that ‘‘the outer chamber surface was warmed at a rate comparable to the rate of metabolic heat generation in order to minimise energy loss through the reactor walls (less than 10% of the heat generated)’’. Key: CHFC: controlled temperature differential. and accounted for 2. The horizontal spatial temperature gradient was slight and temperatures in a vertical plane had values similar to those expected at full scale.

vertical temperature gradients can still occur in either type of reactor and these should be noted. (2002) and Cronje et al. Scholwin and Bidlingmaier (2003) Campbell et al. within a temperature-controlled chamber.492 I. (2003) also provided controlled heating for the base and head-space surfaces in order to prevent internal condensation. McCartney and Chen (2001). (1993). Dao et al. in their reactor. 2002. Lehmann et al. (2001) Walker and Harrison (1960). Magalhaes et al. 1996b. the difference between CTD and CHF reactors is simply a matter of the way control is implemented. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 Fig. Magalhaes et al. c Substrate degradability assessment is defined as: ‘‘the measurement of the fraction of VS degraded during a composting process’’.W. or a coil through which heated water was circulated (Beaudin et al.G. and mathematical modelling related data’’. Key: (a) and (c). in which case a single ‘‘ambient’’ temperature at all surfaces may be anticipated. 1993). Cronje et al. As discussed. (1999) and Scholwin and Bidlingmaier (2003) were reported to be surrounded by a heating jacket. Sikora and Sowers (1985).. (1990b). Substrate compostability studies are defined as: ‘‘the assessment. whilst those of van Bochove et al. (1996a. 2003). 10 l reactor. including investigation of the effects of feed conditioning and additives’’. However. Cronje et al.... (2003) Hogan et al. (1989) indicated that reactor operation in the CTD mode was less than ideal for controlling CCR losses and that this was better achieved when the calculated fluxes. b et al. van Bochove et al. the air temperature surrounding the reactor vessel was controlled. (2003). Lehmann et al. M. (1996). (2003) Campbell et al.. CTD (CHFC) vs self-heating mode temperature and CO2 profiles (from Magalhaes et al. Reactors described by McCartney and Chen (2001) were placed in an insulated container. (2003) Beaudin et al. with the former using temperature differentials and the latter calculated heat fluxes. Given that computer-based control systems are now widely available and are relatively inexpensive. (b) and (d). Cronje et al. and consequent mass balance inaccuracies. Stocks et al. Korner et al. Sikora et al. Korner et al.. 1996c) Apparatus development Substrate degradabilityc Process evaluation is defined as: ‘‘the measurement of reaction rates. kinetic parameters. (1994). 1990b. . 0. In other CTD systems either heating tape (Campbell et al. by using a composting process. (2003) wrapped aluminium foil around the reactor surfaces in order to address this issue. In (a) and (b) solid lines: mean values. Cook et al.. was wrapped around all or part of the vessel. Both Stocks et al. Stocks et al. Table 9 Uses of CTD and CHF laboratory-scale reactors Type CTD Major focus of study Apparatus development Compression effects Exit gas composition/odour studies Fate of specific compounds including toxics Mathematical model validation Preparation of compost for further evaluation Process evaluationa Substrate compostabilityb CHF a Reference Mote and Griffis (1979). the use of CHF laboratory systems should become increasingly feasible. 1994). In both reported CHF reactor systems. 1993. of the suitability of raw material mixtures for conversion to compost. (1995). 8. (2003). Cronje et al. dotted lines: maximum or minimum values. 1996). Mason. (2002). (1995). McCartney and Chen (2001) McCartney and Chen (2001) Fraser and Lau (2000). (1999) Cronje et al. Where heating tapes or coils are used uneven distribution of external heating may be an issue.4 l reactor. rather than temperature differentials only. Hogan et al. (1990b). (1989) Atkinson et al. were used as the basis for controlling the external temperature. (1983).

1983. 2003. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 493 4. Lehmann et al. 1995). Scholwin and Bidlingmaier. have also been used.. Whilst this strategy is appropriate for scientific investigation purposes. removed inlet ammonia (Mote and Griffis.. 1998. 2000.. 1997.. 1988). VanderGheynst et al.and pilot-scale reactors typically reproduce neither the vertical height nor the horizontal dimensions found in full-scale composting systems. 1979. 1991.. 1984.W. Komilis and Ham. whilst downflow and alternating flow direction experiments were described by Bari et al. Garcia-Gomez et al. Palmisano et al. van Bochove et al. 2002. 1991. Subsequently. van Bochove et al. even the more advanced laboratory-scale reactors have not simulated the compressive loads experienced in full-scale composting piles. Larsen and McCartney. Sikora et al. 1990a. van Bochove et al.. 2001. Garcia-Gomez et al. 1983. Reactor aeration The majority of laboratory-scale reactors have utilised forced aeration. Cronje et al. Campbell et al.. as shown by Cronje et al. 1995.and pilot-scale studies involving aeration by natural ventilation (Barrington et al. enabling a range of compressive loads to be applied.. In general terms. 2000) and controlled the air temperature to that of the system (Sikora et al. 2002.. further work in this area would be valuable. 1997a. 1995. merit consideration.. Veeken et al. Campbell et al. 1985. (2002) . In addition. inter-particle bridging effects between granular materials within a column can result in incomplete transmission of the static load to material at the base of the column (Shamlou. van Bochove et al.. 5... Strom.. authors have removed incoming carbon dioxide in order to facilitate carbon dioxide generation measurements (Mote and Griffis.. 1993.. 1993. At appropriate rates. which they termed a ‘‘biocell’’. Chalaux et al. in press). Magalhaes et al. In view of the relatively small number of published laboratory. In this regard. 1983. which they reported would be experienced at the bottom of a 3. Intermittent aeration strategies for pilot-scale reactors were reported by Keener et al.. A more detailed discussion of aeration rates and their significance is presented in part 2 of this paper (Mason and Milke. 1993... 1995. 1993. 2003)... Chalaux et al. For a packed material height to column diameter ratio of 1:1 for example.or pilot-scale simulation of compressive loads is unlikely to be achieved simply by reproducing the full-scale height. 1995. M... Hogan et al. van der Zee et al.. 1991. 1992. Cook et al. Cook et al. Barrington et al.7 m high windrow. (1997a) both humidified and heated the airstream used in their experiments.I. Larsen and McCartney (2000) applied a 12 kg weight to composting material contained within a laboratory-scale reactor in order to simulate a load of 12. 2003.. interpretation of results must consider the varying temperature and humidity of inlet air when assessing likely effects at full scale. whilst Michel and Reddy (1998) used a synthetic inlet gas comprising O2 plus N2. Cook et al. Aeration has typically been continuous and in an upflow direction. (2000a). Loser et al. Sikora et al. This phenomenon may be expected to apply to columns of composting materials.. McCartney and Chen (2001) reported the construction of a biological load cell. 2003). 1993. 2000. Michel et al. In one case oxygen was replenished using a closed-circuit respirometer-like arrangement (Mote and Griffis. Larsen and McCartney. Qiao and Ho.. 2002. 1997. 2000). airflow wall effects and airflow channelling through the matrix. 1997. 1979).. 1985. The widespread use of inlet air conditioning for laboratory-scale reactors has an important function in eliminating excessive drying effects as well as facilitating the monitoring of various gas phase constituents.. Bach et al. Komilis and Ham. 1999. Michel and Reddy. materials compression. Hogan et al. analogous to macropore flow in soils. Bono et al. natural ventilation might also be approximated. Day et al. Investigators have commonly humidified the airstream in order to prevent excessive drying of the composting mass (Sikora et al. (1989) adjusted incoming air to 18 °C and 100% RH. In order to address the issue of compressive loading. and would indicate that laboratory.. Michel et al. Sikora and Sowers.8 kPa.. Fixed aeration rates have been most frequently reported. 1979.. stripped out volatile organic compounds (Magalhaes et al. Chalaux et al. 1993.. 2001. (2001). Mason. whilst in a laboratory system used to investigate spontaneous ignition of hay. Schloss et al.. Bono et al.. Magalhaes et al. Veeken et al.. inlet air humidity was adjusted to a range of values using appropriate electrolyte solutions (Currie and Festenstein.. 1998. 1998.. As pointed out by McCartney and Chen (2001). 1971). 1999. 1994. 2000. Many laboratory-scale composting systems operating with forced aeration have utilised pre-conditioned inlet air. Michel et al. 1989. 1992. 1990a.G. 1983. Such strategies will potentially simulate a range of full-scale forced-aeration regimes. with only relatively minor increases in the absolute load ‘‘seen’’ at the base occurring once the height:diameter ratio exceeds 4:1. 2002). Physical considerations Laboratory. Stegmann et al. VanderGheynst and Lei. Pilot-scale self-heating systems have typically not utilised pre-conditioned inlet air. to facilitate VHM.. Komilis and Ham. approximately 75% of the load due to the height of material can be expected. (2003) who reported approximately 50% relative humidity in an airstream which had been bubbled through a water cylinder at 40 °C. although dual aeration systems. In a different approach. Humidified inlet air may not be fully saturated however. 2000.. 1993. although VanderGheynst et al. Hwang et al..

1985. due to variations in behaviour at the mixture/wall interface. that airflow could be satisfactorily described using a plug flow model with dispersion (Tremier and de Guardia. assist in the prevention of channelling.. or exceeded. 1994. Ashbolt and Line. this diameter has been equalled. given a critical D/dp ratio of 10:1. 1979.. Reported particle size data for conventionally shredded green (yard) waste has indicated the presence of material with dimensions ranging from <2. 1993. The pilot-scale reactor described by Choi et al. Variations in bulk density have been incorporated into several mathematical models of the composting process (Keener et al. the operation of turned windrows and agitated in-vessel systems is simulated. This could be difficult to account for at smaller scales but may be important when translating results to full scale. Additionally. 2001). in particular to understand the effects of non-homogenous irregularly shaped particles typically present in initial compost mixtures. 1962. particle dimensions of up to 25–50 mm may be anticipated in practice. Smet et al.5 mm range and typically <9% in the >19. further research in this area is suggested..G. they demonstrated a non-linear relationship between compost permeability and velocity. Das and Keener. 1996). As well as increasing mixture free air space and providing an opportunity for re-wetting. 2003). However. 1999. such as aerated static piles. Crohn and Bishop. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 conducted pilot-scale experiments using a range of initial mixture bulk densities. Reactor selection for composting environment simulation The choice of which laboratory. yard trimmings and chicken manure showed a majority of material <9. (2001) employed an internal auger for both mixing and material transport. a decrease has been shown. Elwell et al. with substantial quantities in the 9. specification of minimum reactor diameters of 200 mm would be prudent in order to reduce sidewall air effects.. gas tracer studies on a 300 l pilot-scale column (diameter not given) containing a mixture of wastewater treatment sludge and pine bark chips showed no evidence of short circuiting. Lehmann et al.. 1993. In addition. With significant quantities of particles of 20 mm in size. VanderGheynst and Lei. an increase in pressure drop has been reported at low values of Re. 1997. whilst Dullien (1992) reported that the wall effect is generally concluded to be negligible if D/dp > 10. van Lier et al. For further discussion of mixing in composting reactors the reader is referred to Petiot and de Guardia (2004).. However a report by Gostomski and Liaw (2001) questioned this ratio for a compost-packed biofilter and indicated that pressure drops can be affected at much higher D/dp values..or pilot-scale system to use will vary according to the aims of each . The possibility of side-wall effects in a laboratoryscale composting column was addressed by Scholwin and Bidlingmaier (2003). In addition. channelling of airflow through larger fissures in the composting matrix is a phenomenon sometimes observed in full-scale systems. Further investigation is required on this topic. 1996. 1999. manual mixing (Bach et al. Mason.. 1997) and into process design methods (Veeken et al. given the range of reactor and pile heights that can occur in practice. Herr˚ mann and Shann. Das and Tollner.. Preferential sidewall airflow may occur in small-scale reactor systems.494 I. M. whilst an analysis of food residuals. or contents removal.5–19...W. at equally spaced intervals inside their reactor. Smars et al. As shown in Table 3. We suggest that this is an important area for future laboratory research. 2000). who also showed that for spherical and cylindrical packings where D/dp < 10. and showed that pressure drop readings can be distorted by water holdup at the bottom of the reactor. internally mounted stirrer blades (Mote and Griffis. 1989. 1982. Attention to compression and airflow issues in laboratory-scale reactors will further enhance the ability to simulate full-scale composting behaviour. whilst the contents of the 2 l reactors described by Namkoong et al. passively aerated piles or non-agitated tower reactors. Laboratory and pilot-scale reactor procedures typically do not include mixing and in this case simulate the operation of static bed reactors. Given pre-sorting. of green waste. An examination of the relevant particle sizes for composting can help in understanding the reactor diameter needed to minimise sidewall airflow effects. with a dominance in the 10–25 mm range (Hannon and Mason. Palmisano et al. Schloss et al. However. the relationship between height and substrate degradation rates has been investigated experimentally by Bari et al. turning will.5 mm in size. Cohen and Metzner (1981) suggested that to minimise wall effects D/dp should exceed 30 for Newtonian fluids. Where periodic turning of the composting mixture has been used. and furthermore. whilst for higher Re values. as has been pointed out by the latter authors.. Papadimitriou and Balis.5 to 100 mm. The effects depend on the ratio of container diameter (D) to particle diameter (dp) and on the Reynolds number (Re). 2003). or additional shredding. with the same external diameter as the internal diameter of the column. external mixing and re-loading (Hansen et al. 2000..5 mm range (Elwell et al. 2003). Turning methods at laboratory.. in a major- ity of experimental reactors to date. (2000b). 1999. 6. He et al. 2003). Schwab et al. 2003). 1994. (1999) were mixed using a glass rod. who placed four PVC rings. The latter ratio has been confirmed in a more recent review by Eisfeld and Schnitzlein (2001).and pilot-scale have included the use of horizontally mounted rotating drum reactors (Schulze. 1994.

depending upon the means of management of heat flux through vessel walls. such as the potential compostability of new raw material/amendment/bulking agent combinations. controlled CCR losses and by incorporating mixing. CTD and CHF reactors may be considered. and associated operational details.G. 2. M. specific aspects of the composting process.and pilot-scale design are listed in Table 10 and these may also be used to ascertain which full-scale system characteristics are most closely reproduced in existing experimental reactors. Surface area:volume ratios for experimental composting reactors range from 5. Alternatively. Further work is suggested to investigate wall effects in composting reactors. however. 4. The pilot-scale reactor of VanderGheynst et al. For example. to obtain more data on horizontal temperature profiles and rates of biological heat production. may need to be established. mixing would not be needed. 7.and pilot-scale reactors may be categorised as fixed-temperature. the reaction kinetics of a substrate. they may self-heat to higher temperatures during the process and may not simulate dynamic process conditions. Compression. dynamic conditions within a windrow may be partially simulated using natural aeration. or the length of time over which temperatures exceeding a specified limit are maintained. particle size and side-wall issues also merit consideration. would thus be most helpful in aiding the interpretation of experimental findings in the future. will require elucidation under closely controlled conditions. Y = yes. the level of CCR losses allowed. In order to simulate conditions within an aerated static pile. or the growth rate of a particular micro-organism. will then determine the type of full-scale environment most closely simulated.and pilot-scale composting reactors may not be simulated by height alone. Mason. However. Compression effects in laboratory. the presence or absence of VHM and mixing and the use of in-process moisture addition. even with insulation present.4–3. Self-heating laboratory-scale reactors may involve significant convective/conductive/radiative losses. the ability of the overall process sequence to stabilise the substrate. although it should be noted that natural aeration may occur during the fan-off periods. However in most cases. and the degree to which full-scale process behaviour is likely to be reproduced. Milke / Waste Management 25 (2005) 481–500 Table 10 Composting system attributes for consideration in scaled-down reactors System to be simulated Agitated bin/tunnel Tower Drum Passive pile Windrow ASPa a b 495 Aeration Forced Natural or forced Forced Natural Natural Forced VHMb O O O N N Y Mixingb Y O Y N Y N Moisture additionb O O O O O O Comments – – Rotating or internally mixed – – – ASP = aerated static pile.0 m2/m3 whilst the range for full-scale systems is 0. investigation. (1997a) was designed to simulate conditions within an aerated static bed system. forced aeration with VHM and appropriate control of CCR losses would be required. In some cases.0 to 88. self-heating. controlled temperature difference and controlled heat flux. fixedtemperature systems are appropriate. When investigating the composting process in relation to dynamic full-scale performance. Controlled temperature difference and controlled heat flux laboratory reactors allow temperature differences and convective/conductive/radiative heat fluxes to be controlled to levels close to those occurring in full-scale systems. however.8 m2/m3. at pilot scale.I. N = no. 3. . the aeration method selected.W. 7. temperature optima. convective/conductive/radiative losses may be limited to full-scale levels using moderate quantities of insulation. Laboratory. In other cases. Aeration may also be intermittent. In general terms. due to inter-particle bridging effects. to incorporate compressive effects into experimental reactors and to investigate experimental systems employing natural ventilation. microbial diversity and the effect of process additives. Selected full-scale reactor characteristics relevant to laboratory. O = optional. Greater attention to the reporting of reactor characteristics. Preferential airflow at reactor walls may be significant where reactor to particle diameter ratios are less than 10:1. 5. the type of composting environment simulated must be inferred from the information reported by researchers. self-heating (pilot-scale). Conclusions 1. 6. Here. Fixed-temperature reactors have useful applications in studying reaction rates. researchers will wish to conduct investigations with a view to relating the results to full-scale operations.

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