The Impact Of Water Content And Other Environmental Parameters On Toluene Removal From Air In A Differential Biofiltration Reactor
Thesis DisciplineChemical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In this work, a differential reactor was used to expose all the biofilter packing material (compost) to a uniform toluene concentration in air. The reactor was combined with water content control using the suction cell principle and traditional inlet concentration, temperature and humidity control.
The matric potential was controlled using the suction cell principle between -5 to -300 cm H₂O which controlled the water content between 0.99 and 2.30 g g⁻¹ (dry weight). Two types of compost were used, with different water retention curves with no observed difference in elimination capacity. The elimination capacity varied between 2.7 g m⁻³r hr⁻¹ and 21 g m⁻³r hr⁻¹ with low potential causing low removal rates. The reduction in EC at low matric potentials was attributed to several factors: loss of water availability to the organisms, water redistribution in the medium, non-adaptable micro-organisms, and reduced mass transfer.
Cultures isolated from compost were used to inoculate the reactor to create a biofilm. A maximal observed surface EC of is 0.17 g m⁻²r hr⁻¹ and a specific removal rate of 1250 g m⁻³b hr⁻¹ is measured. These values were used in modelling the biofilter performance.
The EC was dependent on the residual toluene concentration. The EC increased with increasing toluene concentration until reaching a critical concentration. Above this concentration, 100 – 300 ppm (0.37- 1.11 g m⁻³) depending on biofilm thickness and area of coverage, the EC was constant. Three toluene dependency curves were fitted using a zero order and a composite model using a weighted average of a zero and first order component. From the data the critical concentration (Ccrit) and the ECcrit was found and used to determine the biofilm thickness. It was estimated to be between 68 and 134 µm. Using a qmax of 1250 g m⁻³b hr⁻¹ and optimising the model a Ks of 1.3•10⁻¹ g m⁻³g was found. This was comparable to values found in the literature. There was no significant difference in the fit between both models. The Ks was low compared to the majority of the data, which means that the zero order part of the composite model dominated. Nitrogen and other nutrients were added to investigate their influence on the elimination capacity (EC) of toluene. Also the effect of temperature on the EC was investigated between 14 and 60 °C. Maximal removal rates were found between 25 and 55 °C. The EC decreased by 90% going from 55 to 60 °C and took many weeks to recover.
Without any extra nitrogen added to the media, the EC averaged around 6 ± 0.3 g m⁻³r h⁻¹. Although the average EC was lower than most reports for toluene removal, it was still in the general range reported. When NH4Cl (1 g l⁻¹) was added to the reactor, the EC increased to 41 ± 1.7 g m⁻³r hr⁻¹. Similar effects were observed with nitrate addition; the steady state EC doubled from 30.1 ± 0.9 g m⁻³r hr⁻¹ to 76.3 ± 2.5 g m⁻³r hr⁻¹. Other macronutrients tested like phosphate, sulphate, magnesium, calcium and iron did not increase the EC.