Treatment of odorous volatile fatty acids using a biotrickling filter


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In this study, a novel fibrous bioreactor was developed for treating odorous compounds present in contaminated air. The first stage of this work was a preliminary study which aimed at investigating the feasibility of using the fibrous bioreactor for the removal of malodorous volatile fatty acids (VFA) that is a common odorous contaminant generated from anaerobic degradation of organic compounds. The kinetics of microbial growth and VFA degradation in the selected culture, and the performance of the submerged bioreactor at different VFA mass loadings were studied. Above 95% of VFA removal efficiencies were achieved at mass loadings up to 22.4 g/m³/h. In the second stage, the odour treatment process was scaled up with system design and operational considerations. A trickling biofilter with synthetic fibrous packing medium was employed. The effects of inlet VFA concentration and empty bed retention time (EBRT) on the process performance were investigated. The bioreactor was effective in removing VFA at mass loadings up to 32 g/m³/h, beyond which VFA started to accumulate in the recirculation liquid, indicating the biofilm was unable to degrade all of the VFA introduced. Although VFA accumulated in the liquid phase, the removal efficiency remained above 99%. This suggested that the biochemical reaction rather than gas–liquid mass transfer was the limiting step of the treatment process. In addition, the biotrickling filter was stable for long-term operation with relatively low and steady pressure drop, no clogging and degeneration of the packing material occurred during the four-month study. Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-595
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


Tsang, Y. F., Chua, H., Sin, S. N., & Chan, S. Y. (2008). Treatment of odorous volatile fatty acids using a biotrickling filter. Bioresource Technology, 99(3), 589-595. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2006.12.032


  • Biofiltration
  • Biodegradation
  • Odour removal
  • Volatile fatty acids


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