Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 5-31-1994

Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering - (M.S.)


Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Environmental Science

First Advisor

Basil Baltzis

Second Advisor

Piero M. Armenante

Third Advisor

Demetri P. Petrides


Biofiltration is a new technology for treating airstreams contaminated with emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It employs porous particles which are placed in reactors, in packed-bed configurations, after appropriate microorganisms have been immobilized on the solid support.

Biofiltration involves complex processes, and is not yet well understood. In this thesis the response of biofilter units to quantitative and qualitative changes in the inlet airstreams was examined. Steady state data were also analyzed through the use of an existing detailed model.

Experiments were performed with two small-scale biofilters, and with ethanol and butanol as model compounds. Each biofilter was dedicated to one compound for a period of eight months. Subsequently, and for a period of four months, the inlets to the two biofilters were switched.

It was found that biofilters respond very successfully to quantitative shock-loading conditions, and less effectively to qualitative shock-loads. Adsorption/desorption of VOCs on the packing material was found to be a key factor for the transient response. Excellent agreement was found between steady state data and model predictions.



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