Air Sampling and Analysis Method for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Related to Field-Scale Mortality Composting Operations

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Akdeniz, Neslihan
Ahn, Heekwon
Crawford, Benjamin
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Glanville, Thomas
Professor Emeritus
Raman, D. Raj
Morrill Professor
Koziel, Jacek
Professor Emeritus
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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In biosecure composting, animal mortalities are so completely isolated during the degradation process that visual inspection cannot be used to monitor progress or the process status. One novel approach is to monitor the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by decaying mortalities and to use them as biomarkers of the process status. A new method was developed to quantitatively analyze potential biomarkers—dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, pyrimidine, acetic acid, propanoic acid, 3-methylbutanoic acid, pentanoic acid, and hexanoic acid—from field-scale biosecure mortality composting units. This method was based on collection of air samples from the inside of biosecure composting units using portable pumps and solid phase microextraction (SPME). Among four SPME fiber coatings, 85 μm CAR/PDMS was shown to extract the greatest amount of target analytes during a 1 h sampling time. The calibration curves had high correlation coefficients, ranging from 96 to 99%. Differences between the theoretical concentrations and those estimated from the calibration curves ranged from 1.47 to 20.96%. Method detection limits of the biomarkers were between 11 pptv and 572 ppbv. The applicability of the prepared calibration curves was tested for air samples drawn from field-scale swine mortality composting test units. Results show that the prepared calibration curves were applicable to the concentration ranges of potential biomaker compounds in a biosecure animal mortality composting unit.


This article is from Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 57, no. 13 (2009): 5658–5664, DOI: 10.1021/jf900801w.

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2009