UTILIZING ELECTRONIC NOSE AND GC-MS TO EXAMINE CRITICAL FACTORS INFLUENCING THE FORMATION OF ODOROUS VOC’S IN BIOSOLIDS.
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Despite the efforts to better manage biosolids field application programs, biosolids managers still lack of efficient and reliable tools to apply large quantities of material while avoiding odor complaints. Objectives of this research were to determine the capabilities of an electronic nose in supporting process monitoring of biosolids production and, to compare odor characteristics of biosolids produced through thermal-hydrolysis anaerobic digestion (TH-AD) to those of alkaline stabilization in the plant, under storage and in the field. A method to quantify key odorants was developed and full scale sampling and laboratory simulations were performed. The portable electronic nose (PEN3) was tested for its capabilities of distinguishing alkali dosages in the biosolids production process. Frequency of recognition of unknown samples was tested achieving highest accuracy of 81.1%. This work exposed the need for a different and more sensitive electronic nose to assure its applicability at full scale for this process. GC-MS results were consistent with those reported in literature and helped to elucidate the behavior of the pattern recognition of the PEN3. Odor characterization of TH-AD and alkaline stabilized biosolids was achieved using olfactometry measurements and GC-MS. Dilution-to-threshold of TH-AD biosolids increased under storage conditions but no correlation was found with the target compounds. The presence of furan and three methylated homologues in TH-AD biosolids was reported for the first time proposing that these compounds are produced during thermal hydrolysis process however, additional research is needed to fully describe the formation of these compounds and the increase in odors. Alkaline stabilized biosolids reported similar odor concentration but did not increase and the ‘fishy’ odor from trimethylamine emissions resulted in more offensive and unpleasant odors when compared to TH-AD. Alkaline stabilized biosolids showed a spike in sulfur and trimethylamine after 3 days of field application when the alkali addition was not sufficient to meet regulatory standards. Concentrations of target compounds from field application of TH-AD biosolids gradually decreased to below the odor threshold after 3 days. This work increased the scientific understanding on odor characteristics and behavior of two types of biosolids and on the application of electronic noses to the environmental engineering field.