Odor and Volatile Organic Compound Removal from Wastewater Treatment Plant Headworks Ventilation Air Using a Biofilter

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Laboratory-scale experiments and field studies were performed to evaluate the feasibility of biofilters for sequential removal of hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from wastewater treatment plant waste air. The biofilter was designed for spatially separated removal of pollutants to mitigate the effects of acid production resulting from hydrogen sulfide oxidation. The inlet section of the upflow units was designated for hydrogen sulfide removal and the second section was designated for VOC removal. Complete removal of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) was accomplished at loading rates of 8.3 g H2S/(m3·h) (15-second empty bed retention time [EBRT]) and 33 g MTBE/(m3·h) (60-second EBRT), respectively. In field studies performed at the Hyperion Treatment Plant in Los Angeles, California, excellent removal of hydrogen sulfide, moderate removal of nonchlorinated VOCs such as toluene and benzene, and poor removal of chlorinated VOCs were observed in treating the headworks waste air. During spiking experiments on the headworks waste air, the percentage removals were similar to the unspiked removals when nonchlorinated VOCs were spiked; however, feeding high concentrations of chlorinated VOCs reduced the removal percentages for all VOCs. Thus, biofilters offer a distinct advantage over chemical scrubbers currently used at publicly owned treatment works in that they not only remove odor and hydrogen sulfide efficiently at low cost, but also reduce overall toxicity by partially removing VOCs and avoiding the use of hazardous chemicals.
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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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