Use of Blue-Green Algae to Improve the Chemical Quality of Municipal Solid Waste Compost

Lay Summary 

Compost as a soil amendment is widely used in agriculture, improving soil by adding more nutrients and organic matter and by adjusting the carbon to nitrogen ratio. Because of the harsh environment and barren soil conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador, the application of high-quality composting products is receiving more attention. Conventional composting processes have been well developed, as they have been studied for many years. However, the use of blue-green algae in composting by mixing it with multiple waste sources has only recently been studied. The three waste sources utilized in this research are sludge from the municipal wastewater treatment system in St. John's, fly ash from power plants, and fish waste from local fish-processing industries. Anabaena strain 387, obtained from the Canadian Phycological Culture Centre, was the algae used with these wastes.
This research investigated the potential application of blue-green algae in improving the quality of compost generated from multiple waste streams, including fly ash, fish waste, and sludge. Various ratios of fly ash, fish waste, sludge, and algae were tested at different reaction periods to generate different levels of compost products. The parameters, including trace elements, carbon to nitrogen ratio, pH, moisture, organic matter, and germination index, were monitored to evaluate the compost quality. This study shows that algae-treated compost can be used as an amendment in agriculture applications.
This research provides an innovative method for the production of different levels of compost products. It also shows how an algae bloom can be used as a valuable product, which can be applied to improve soil quality. Although this research brings a new scope to the study of compost, considerable work is needed to better understand biodegradation processes.

Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science
The Harris Centre - MMSB Waste Management Applied Research Fund
St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Environmental Impact
Fish Waste
Waste Management
Start date 
1 Jan 2013
End date 
31 Dec 2014