Biological processes, most notably biofilters and biotrickling filters, are increasingly used to remove and biodegrade a wide variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in gas streams emitted from industrial operations and wastewater treatment facilities. This paper describes
several laboratory-scale experiments in which biofilters were used to treat a variety of contaminated gas streams containing solvents commonly encountered in industry. Experiments were conducted with single-component contaminants (containing methyl ethyl ketone), twocomponent mixtures (methyl
ethyl ketone and toluene), and four-component mixtures (n-butyl acetate, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl propyl ketone, and toluene). The various biofilters were subjected to a variety of steady-state loading conditions with empty bed residence times (EBRTs) ranging from 2.0 minutes to 15 seconds.
Experiments were also conducted to determine biofilter performance when subjected to loading conditions in which the contaminants were supplied on a discontinuous basis and when influent VOC concentrations changed as a function of time. Results demonstrate that biofilters can exhibit consistently
high contaminant removal even under discontinuous loading conditions. Results also demonstrate that selection of an appropriate operating strategy can prevent excessive contaminant emissions during transient periods in which the influent contaminant concentration temporarily increases to a
concentration several times higher than usual.
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