A respirometric method to measure mineralization of polymeric materials in a matured compost environment

Ji Dong Gu, S. Coulter, D. Eberiel, S. P. McCarthy, R. A. Gross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A respirometric method was developed to measure the mineralization of polymeric materials in a matured compost environment. For the purpose of evaluating the method, results obtained for the mineralization of glucose and cellulose are presented. The matured compost, in addition to supplied nutrients, micronutrients, and an inoculum, serves as the matrix which supports the microbial activity. Recovery of the substrate carbon in the form of carbon dioxide from the glucose and cellulose added to test vessels was 68 and 70%, respectively. A statistical evaluation of the results obtained on substrate mineralization was carried out and showed acceptable reproducibility between replicate test vessels and test runs. The testing protocol developed has the following important characteristics: (1) the test reactors are maintained at 53 °C at a high solids loading (60% moisture), which has certain characteristics that are similar to a thermophilic compost environment; (2) the test matrix providing microbial activity is derived from readily available organic materials to facilitate reproducibility of the method in different laboratories; (3) the equipment required to perform this test is relatively inexpensive; and (4) the information obtained on polymer mineralization is vital to the study and development of biodegradable polymeric materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-299
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Polymer Degradation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Composting
  • biodegradation testing
  • compost simulation
  • municipal solid waste
  • polymer degradation
  • polymer mineralization
  • respirometry


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