Development of a biologically based aerobic composting simulation model

D. P. Stombaugh, S. E. Nokes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


A relatively simple dynamic model based on microbial process kinetics has been developed for aerobic composting. Differential equations describing microbial, substrate, and oxygen concentrations, as well as moisture and temperature profiles have been derived as a function of vessel size and aeration rate. Microbial biomass growth was described using Monod growth kinetics as a function of degradable substrate concentration, oxygen concentration, moisture content, and compost temperature. Facility and fan operating costs have been included to permit economic optimization of the process. Predicted results demonstrated the ability of the model to quantify and describe the influence of multiple interacting factors (temperature, oxygen, moisture, and substrate availability) on the process driving the composting: microbial growth kinetics. Future development of the approach should be undertaken to provide a robust engineering model that can be used to evaluate and design environmentally sound composting facilities. An example application is presented along with data from a laboratory scale composter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-250
Number of pages12
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Aerobic composting
  • Biological engineering
  • Bioreactor systems
  • Dynamic modeling
  • Engineering education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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