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Comparison of Different Biotrickling Filter Technologies For Treating Air from Wastewater Treatment Facilities

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Controlling odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) effectively and economically is a significant consideration in the operation of wastewater treatment facilities. There are various methods for removing odors and VOCs from air streams including chemical, adsorption and thermal technologies. Treating odors and VOCs using a biological approach has shown to be a very compelling control approach because of the low costs associated with this method and the minimal labor required to keep these systems in operation. A study was conducted at the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts largest wastewater treatment plant comparing four different types of biotrickling filters to determine which would be the most effective in removing hydrogen sulfide, one of the most conspicuous odor producing compounds, and VOCs. The study compared the performance of four different biotrickling filter designs. The four basic biotrickling filter designs tested were: 1) a one-stage vessel with lava rock media; 2) a two-bed system with rock media in the first bed and a second bed with activated carbon that was specific for growing VOC degrading microorganisms; 3) a one-stage vessel of open cell foam media with a ridged support structure surrounding the media to minimize compression; and, 4) a two-stage system with loose packed open cell foam in both stages. All the different designs were able to achieve significant levels of hydrogen sulfide removal. Due to the flexibility of operating two separate stages, the loose packed foam system gave indications that it could achieve significant removal of aromatic compounds, if the inlet hydrogen sulfide concentrations are not elevated. Although this type of system shows promise, at high hydrogen sulfide concentrations and air velocities the foam media can become clogged with accumulations of elemental sulfur.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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