Effect of Different Materials and Heat Methods on the Production of Gas in Compost Piles

Composting is an old farming method used to recycle nutrients from old materials and waste products. Gas is also produced from these piles. Gases such as methane and carbon dioxide are omitted from the pile when materials such as animal waste are decomposing. In recent science, methane gas has been tested to be used as a new fuel. Being able to determine how to effectively produce methane while producing decomposing compost would benefit farmers and the environment because it would supply a secondary resource of fossil fuel, while providing a soil suitable for farming.

In the experiment, three different mixtures of compost materials, along with three different heating methods were put together to figure out which combination of materials and heating methods would work best to create the most gas production. The compost mixtures were green (grass and lettuce), brown (twigs and dried leaves), and a mixture of half green and half brown. The heating methods were external heat sources set at 160°F, insulation around the bottles, and non-covered bottles. By creating a manometer using a wooden board and tubing, the gas omitted could be seen through the rising of water sitting at the bottom of the tube. The bottles were left to sit and decompose over a time of about two weeks. The change in water levels were recorded each day and compared.

After the experiment was conducted, a descriptive analysis test was given to determine which combination of materials and heating methods worked best on the production of gas. Observations were also taken to observe the decomposition process occurring in each bottle during the experiment. The observations taken and the descriptive analysis test concluded that the bottles produced different amounts of gas and the group that made the most dramatic change in decomposition in the compost was the non-covered bottles.

Research Conducted By:

Tasnim Choudhury
Warren Mott High School

Jennie Feldpausch
Lakeview High School