Removal of Volatile Organic Compounds Using Biological Treatment Methods

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Controlling volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and odors from wastewater collection and treatment facilities is a top priority for Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (Districts). Although the Districts have been successful in operating full-scale two-stage odor treatment systems with biotrickling filters in the first stage and activated carbon scrubbers in the seconded stage, activated carbon systems can be expensive to operate. In order to explore methods to save costs associated with carbon use, research was conducted to investigate the potential of using biological treatment technology to remove VOCs. Six pilot-scale biofiltration systems, which included five biotrickling filters and one biofilter, were constructed and operated. The results of the testing indicated that over 85% of most VOCs inlet to a pilot-scale biotrickling filter could be removed using foam media with high specific surface areas. The pilot-scale biofilter using wood chips and finished compost was able to remove 90% of most inlet VOCs.
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