Monitoring CO2 Levels for Composting Success

CO2Meter prides itself on its long history of forming mutually beneficial relationships with researchers and universities worldwide. These relationships are forged with the shared goal of leveraging the power of CO2Meters’ innovative sensor solutions to further scientific testing and discovery.

Paul Holowko is a researcher who utilizes CO2Meters’ K30 10000 ppm CO2 Sensor (SE-0018) to measure CO2 levels as part of a novel home composting project.

Monitoring CO2 Levels for Composting Success

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

Paul pointed out that a fully automatic, additive-free composting machine is not currently available on the market for less than $1,000. Paul has been working to develop such a composting product that can accommodate everything from shredded paper to rat corpses.

CO2Meter became extremely interested in Paul’s research and his aims to develop a fungal composting device, primarily due to its potential use in the suppression of tree diseases. The device can also be employed in farming, allowing soil to be recovered from traditional farming methods which use chemical and synthetic fertilizers.

The device can also be utilized for efficient plant disposal and CO2 generation for greenhouses and grow houses, offering the capacity to accommodate around 15 gallons of plant material per week.

CO2Meter recently interviewed Paul Holowko to find out more about his research and learn how the K30 SE-0018 supports his project.

Paul

Paul's Compost Device.

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

CO2Meter: Could you tell us more about the purpose of the composting machine?

Paul Holowko: “It is a multi-purpose tool designed to support infrastructure for any type of soil building and organic material handling.

“It can be used for experiments and research, as well as a number of practical applications; for example, disposing of kitchen or yard waste without prior composting knowledge, as a CO2 producer for grow rooms or cannabis, or growing compost from materials with substantial levels of bacteria, protists, fungi or worms.

“The machine is currently employed as a test unit for the product development of a kitchen counter-top compost machine.”

CO2Meter: Could you provide some insight into the machine’s functionality?

Paul Holowko: “Raw material is inserted into the machine from a large opening on the drum along with some yard soil. This is all that is needed to start the composting process. No special additives are required, and there is no glass, metal, or plastic to interfere with the process.

“A series of sensors inside the drum help manage the composting processes. Water can be added as required, while fans blow outside air into the drum to cool, heat, or limit CO2 in the compost where this is necessary.

“The drum is turned every hour to fluff the compost. Depending on the material deposited in the drum, the composting process is completed in about 2 to 3 days.

“After new material has been added to drum, the user simply rotates the drum by pressing a button. This process is known as ‘flushing’ the compost and is designed to prevent flies and odors being emitted from the unit. This means there are no filters needed for smell control.

“A set of propitiatory equations are used to manage ambient temperature, carbon dioxide, watering, relative humidity and compost temperature. The unit has been specifically designed to prevent anaerobic processes from occurring in the compost, and the entire drum is on a weight scale to measure material off gassing.”

CO2Meter: What has been the greatest change in your industry, in your experience?

Paul Holowko: “The most significant change has been the increasing overuse of chemicals in farming and managing soil condition. This has become so prevalent that there is even farmland in Central Valley, California that is no longer usable. The CO2 meter will be instrumental in creating compost that supplements this destroyed farm soil.”

K30 integrated in Compost Device.

K30 integrated in Compost Device.

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

CO2Meter: What has been your experience with the K30 10000 ppm CO2 Sensor, and how has it supported your work?

Paul Holowko: “The K30 supports measurement of the metabolism of the decomposition of food and plant wastes. It can also be used to measure carbon dioxide of gassing, and the sensor is used as part of a control loop with heating mats, fans, and watering systems.

“The K30 unit is required to work in a harsh environment with consistently high humidity and temperatures and abundant compost particles. It was occasionally necessary to install a dry/wet bulb hygrometer with thermometers and fans to measure RH, unfortunately the majority of sensors would not survive >=96% RH.

“The instrument’s CO2 line shows pockets of CO2 released as the drum is turned hourly, because the compost’s temperature is never permitted to exceed to go over 100 °F. Otherwise, the majority of this energy would be wasted by microbiology as the drum reaches 160 °F and the temperature lowers.”

Displays overall K30 Data Logging Analysis.

Displays overall K30 Data Logging Analysis.

Image Credit: CO2Meter, Inc.

CO2Meter: Why did you choose CO2Meter as an overall CO2 sensor provider?

Paul Holowko: “CO2Meter is an excellent supplier of sensors, and is also the most cost effective.”

CO2Meter: Are you using the K30 Sensor in any other ways?

Paul Holowko: “Yes. I am working with another application which employs the K30 for air quality sensing. I am using the K30 and another air quality sensor situated on a roof to track poor air quality is in the Bay Area, then send this information on air quality and ambient CO2 levels to be used in a monitor inside the house.”

CO2Meter: Have these projects provided any unexpected insight into the underlying processes?

Paul Holowko: “Yes. The sensor has highlighted the need for natural bugs to get into the compost. Bugs, flies and other creatures must be able to enter the compost drum in order to lay eggs, reproduce and consume material. These creatures are an important part of the natural composting cycle which we cannot live without.”

CO2Meter: What do the next three to five years look like for the composting project?

Paul Holowko: “I am looking to integrate this device into other compost machines, supporting the development of specialist compost for soil recovery and disease suppression on a wide range of plants”.

CO2Meter is committed to learning about the fascinating research done by its customers, documenting case studies and using these good practice examples to support new and varied projects requiring the accurate measurement of carbon dioxide gas concentrations.

CO2Meter continues to provide the highest quality gas detection devices, technological advancements and educational resources designed to assist its customers’ current and future scientific projects.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by CO2Meter, Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit CO2Meter, Inc.

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