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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Transient response of flow-direction-switching vapor-phase biofilters

  • Author(s): Wright, W F
  • Schroeder, E D
  • Chang, Daniel P.Y.
  • et al.

Transient loading of vapor-phase biofilters may result in exceedence of the local reaction or mass transfer capacity of the inlet region. In such cases, higher concentrations of contaminants are carried deeper into the bed where there is less active biomass and, in some cases, breakthrough of contaminants may occur. Previous studies have demonstrated that periodic reversal of the flow direction results in improved transient-loading response. However, quantitative information on the extent of the benefit is lacking. Step function increases in toluene concentration were applied to unidirectional-flow and flow-direction-switching laboratory reactors operated in parallel. Contaminant concentration was monitored at several points along the packed beds. Relative to unidirectional mode of operation, periodic flow reversal produced a more uniform distribution of microbial reaction capacity along the length of the packed bed. Directional switching at a 12-h interval did not result in a loss of activity or removal capacity. Mass-removal rates under transient-loading conditions were similar in the first-half of both biofilters but, in the second-half of the units, significant removals were observed only in the flow-direction-switching biofilter. As a result, maximum mass-removal rates under transient-loading conditions were approximately twice as great for the flow-direction-switching biofilter relative to the conventional unidirectional-flow biofilter receiving similar mass loading.

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