Digestates, a byproduct of the anaerobic bioconversion of organic wastes for the production of biogas, are highly variable in chemical and biological properties, thus limiting their potential use in agriculture as soil amendment. Using a lab-scale glass reactor, we aimed to assess the feasibility to chemically stabilize the solid fraction of an anaerobic digestate by applying a Fenton reaction under constant pH (3.0), temperature (70 degrees C), reaction time (8 h), and various combinations of H2O2 and Fe2+. In Fenton-treated samples, the phytotoxic potential (determined on a test plant), total phenols, and the bad smell odor index markedly declined, whereas total C and N remained unaltered. Thermogravimetric (TG) analysis and Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy revealed contrasting changes in extracted humic and fulvic fractions being increased or depleted, respectively, in aromatic substances. Process feasibility and optimum conditions for an effective biomass stabilization were achieved with a H2O2/Fe2+ ratio between 0.02 and 0.03.
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