More Compost

Monday, August 24, 2009

As you all know the University of Ottawa is the new recipient of what appears to be the first mechanical composter in an Ontario university setting. That’s right... ici on compost!

So here’s the low down. A mechanical composter is exactly what it sounds like, a composter that mechanically composts its contents. This is different from most other composters which are typically simple wind row systems. Mechanical composting systems are typically in-vessel systems (i.e. inside a big tube) that rotate periodically.

This is a good time to add a side note. In case you wanted to know, the process of composting is very rudimentary. You take organic waste, you add oxygen, and there you have it. Composting is actually a ridiculously easy process, the goal is really just to try to keep to the bacteria in the garbage alive and they will take care of the rest.

So the university’s new composter rotates the waste inside of it every hour to keep feeding oxygen into the system. Two weeks later the organics come out the other end of the machine as compost. The machine is capable of composting approximately 200 tonnes of organics every year (that could fill up about 6 stories of the Desmarais Building), and what it generates will be used as fertilizer on the campus.

One last side note, the vermi composter currently on campus is capable of handling 4 tonnes of compost every year. Unlike the old system, which was limited by the dietary needs of the worms, the new mechanical composter can compost meat, cooking oil, milk products, wood chips, and cooked foods. It should also be noted that the cafeteria will now be using compostable dinnerware which can also go into the new composter.

PS - On Friday Friday August 21st, at approximately 12:05 am the composter pushed out it's very first load of compost.

-jon

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