Anaerobic Digestion Alters Copper and Zinc Speciation

Anaerobic digestion is a widely used organic waste treatment process. However, little is known on how it could alter the speciation of contaminants in organic waste. This study was focused on determining the influence of anaerobic digestion on the speciation of copper and zinc, two metals that generally occur at high concentration in organic waste. Copper and zinc speciation was investigated by X-ray absorption spectroscopy in four different raw organic wastes (predigestion) and their digested counterparts (postdigestion, i.e., digestates). The results highlighted an increase in the digestates of the proportion of amorphous or nanostructured copper sulfides as well as amorphous or nanostructured zinc sulfides and zinc phosphate as compared to raw waste. We therefore suggest that the environmental fate of these elements would be different when spreading either digestates or raw waste on cropland.