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Utilization of Trickling Bed Air Biofilter in the Treatment of VOCs and Odors

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Municipal and industrial wastewater have come under increased regulatory scrutiny as being a source of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions to the ambient atmosphere. As a result, industrial wastewater treatment facilities have significantly been affected by the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA).

Trickling bed air biofilers (TBABs) could be the future technology for removal of VOCs and odors from air streams. They are superior to other treatment options because of cost savings due to unnecessary additional materials added during operation. They have more advantages than traditional biofilter techniques as they overcome the problems generated by utilization of natural media in the bed such as compaction, pH control, nutrients, and humidity. TBABs are considered to be the best treatment option in the case of low pollutant concentration in a high volume air stream.

In this study, TBAB successfully degraded n-hexane used as a model VOC, which is known to be very reluctant to biodegradation. Due to its high hydrophobicity, n-hexane could not be transferred from bulk gas to the biofilm-water layer, where the degradation takes place. This problem was eliminated by changing the conditions of microorganisms' growth within the TBAB bed. Switching to an acidic pH buffer favored the growth of fungi, which enabled capturing n-hexane directly from the gas phase due to its high surface area. The TBAB was successful in degrading n-hexane loading rates as high as 50 g/m3/hr. n-Hexane, being a difficult model contaminant, opens the way for TBABs to deal with a wide variety of carbon-based air pollutants and odors.
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Keywords: VOCs; acidic pH; biofiltration; fungi; hydrophilic compounds; hydrophobic compounds; trickle bed air biofilter

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2010

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