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A heterotrophic organism (including bacteria and fungi) which breaks down the complex compounds of dead protoplasm, absorbs some decomposition products, and releases substances usable by consumers. Also known as microcomposer; microconsumer; reducer.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an apparatus that decomposes aluminate solutions in order to isolate crystalline aluminum hydroxide.

A decomposer is fitted with a mechanical stirrring device or an air mixer. A decomposer with mechanical stirring consists of a steel tank (diameter and height, 8 m), inside which a chain stirrer turns slowly in order to keep the seeding crystals in suspension. Air-stirred decomposers have come into extensive use (height, about 30 m; diameter, 8 m; available capacity, over 1,000 cu m). The stirring equipment consists of two vertical tubes along the decomposer’s axis. The inner tube, through which compressed air is sent under a pressure of 0.5 meganewtons per sq m, is 300 mm shorter than the outer one.

Air mixing with the solution forms an air-pulp mixture less dense than the pulp itself. Rising through the space between the tubes, this mixture attracts adjacent layers of pulp, mixes with them, and creates continuous upward motion of the pulp. Decomposers are connected in series (10-15 units). The aluminate solution and seeding are sent continuously to the head decomposers of each series, while the hydrated pulp is removed continuously from the tail end.


Lainer, A. I. Proizvodstvo glinozema. Moscow, 1961.
Beliaev, A. I. Metallurgiia legkikh metallov, 6th ed. Moscow, 1970.




a saprophytic organism that mineralizes dead organic matter, that is, breaks organic matter down into more or less simple inorganic compounds. The overwhelming majority of decomposers are microorganisms that live in soil and water. They belong to the group of consumers.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Scientists from Cornell University are reporting the development of a new biodegradable "nanohybrid" plastic that can be engineered to decompose much faster than existing plastics used in everything from soft drink bottles to medical implants.
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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A Las Vegas college wants to develop a research laboratory to study how human bodies decompose in the desert.
"When buried," says Emily, "an animal's body decomposes at a very slow rate--it can take up to 30 years." However, the girls' research proved that, in sawdust, a 1,600-pound cow can decompose in just 200 days; a chicken's body, in only 13 days.