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Effect of inoculum type, packing material and operational conditions on the biofiltration of a mixture of hydrophobic volatile organic compounds in air

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

The emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere causes negative environmental and health effects. Biofiltration is known to be an efficient and cost-effective treatment technology for the removal of VOCs in waste gas streams. However, little is known on the removal of VOC mixtures and the effect of operational conditions, particularly for hydrophobic VOCs, and on the microbial populations governing the biofiltration process. In this study, we evaluated the effect of inoculum type (acclimated activated sludge (A-AS) versus Rhodococcus erythropolis) and packing material (mixture of compost and wood chips (C + WC) versus expanded perlite) on the removal of a mixture of hydrophobic VOCs (toluene, cyclohexane and hexane) in three biofilters (BFs), i.e., BF1: C + WC and R. erythropolis; BF2: C + WC and A-AS; and BF3: expanded perlite and R. erythropolis. The BFs were operated for 374 days at varying inlet loads (ILs) and empty bed residence times (EBRTs). The results showed that the VOCs were removed in the following order: toluene > cyclohexane > hexane, which corresponds to their air-water partitioning coefficient and thus bioavailability of each VOC. Toluene is the most hydrophilic VOC, while hexane is the most hydrophobic. BF2 outperformed BF1 and BF3 in each operational phase, with average maximum elimination capacities (ECmax) of 21 +/- 3 g toluene m(-3) h(-1) (removal efficiency (RE): 100 %; EBRT: 82 s), 11 +/- 2 g cyclohexane m(-3) h(-1) (RE: 86 +/- 6 %; EBRT: 163 s) and 6.2 +/- 0.9 g hexane m(-3) h(-1) (RE: 96 +/- 4 %; EBRT: 245 s). Microbial analysis showed that despite having different inocula, the genera Rhodococcus, Mycobacterium and/or Pseudonocardia dominated in all BFs but at different relative abundances. This study provides new insights into the removal of difficult-to-degrade VOC mixtures with limited research to date on biofiltration.
ISSN: 1879-1026
Volume: 904
Jaar van publicatie:2023