Effect of nitrogen, phosphorus and pH on biological wood oxidation at 42 °C

Fan, Shiyang; Sun, Yue; Heijne, Annemiek ter; Chen, Wei Shan; Buisman, Cees J.N.


Biological wood oxidation (BWO) is proposed as a cleaner alternative to wood combustion for heat production and wood waste management. Currently, BWO is not extensively studied and little is known about it. Nevertheless, given the composition of wood residues, which is dominated by carbon, nutrient availability may become a limiting factor during BWO. Our objective was to study the nutrition requirements for sustaining the BWO. For this purpose, three different factors including nitrogen addition, phosphorus addition and pH, were studied. Oxygen consumption and mass loss were monitored and used to evaluate the impact of nutrition on BWO and to calculate the theoretical heat production. The result showed that nitrogen addition at a relatively low level (2.5-10 mg/g) enhanced the cumulative oxygen consumption by 60–124% and mass loss by 28–95%, when compared with the BWO without nitrogen addition. The highest nitrogen addition examined in this research (20 mg/g), on the other hand, did not enhance BWO. Different phosphorus addition (0.5–5 mg/g) and pH (4–6) had little impacts on BWO. The highest theoretical heat production rate (0.63 W/kg dry wood biomass) was achieved using 2.5 mg/g nitrogen addition with a 95-day incubation. This suggests that nitrogen addition is required and able to sustain BWO. Besides, the cumulative oxygen consumption showed a good linear relationship with mass loss. This study provides the first indication on the effective quantify of nitrogen addition for enhancing BWO, which contributes to the selection of nutrient source for BWO in future studies.