Dissolved organic carbon fractions formed during composting of municipal solid waste: Properties and significance

B. Chefet, Y. Hadar, Y. Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


The properties and transformation of dissolved organic matter (DOM) extracted (10 L water per kilogram compost) from municipal solid waste (MSW) compost at five stages (days 47, 77, 105, 126, and 187) of composting were investigated. The DOM was fractionated into hydrophobic or hydrophilic neutrals, acids, and bases. The unfractionated DOM, the hydrophobic acids and neutrals (HoA and HoN, respectively), and the hydrophilic neutrals (HiN) fractions were studied using solid-state 13C-NMR, FTIR, and DRIFT spectroscopy. The HoA fraction was found to be the dominant (percentage of total DOM) hydrophobic fraction, exhibiting a moderate increase during composting. The HoN fraction increased sharply from less than 1% to 18% of the total DOM during 187 days of composting, while the hydrophobic bases (HoB) exhibited the opposite trend. The HiN represented the major fraction of the hydrophiles up to 120 days of composting, decreasing thereafter by 38%. The relative concentration of the hydrophilic acids and bases (HiA and HiB, respectively) exhibited no consistent trend during composting. DRIFT spectra of the unfractionated DOM taken from the composting MSW revealed a decreasing level of polysaccharide structures with time. The 13C-NMR and FTIR spectra of the HoA fraction exhibited a polyphenol-humic structure, whereas the HoN spectra exhibited strong aliphatic features. The spectra of the HiN fraction confirmed its polysaccharide nature. During the final stage of composting, the DOM concentration was steady, while a relative decrease of HiN concomitant with an increase of HoA and HoN fractions was observed. These indicate that the DOM contained a low concentration of biodegradable organic matter and a higher content of macromolecules related to humic substances. The biological significance and heavy metal binding of these fractions are being studied based on earlier observations showing enhanced plant growth in the presence of DOM extracted from mature as opposed to immature compost.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)172-179
Number of pages8
JournalActa Hydrochimica et Hydrobiologica
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1998


  • Compost
  • Dissolved organic carbon
  • Dissolved organic matter
  • FTIR
  • Humic substances
  • NMR


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