Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type



In recent years, biofiltration technology has gained acceptance worldwide as an economical and reliable air pollution control technology for treating gases contaminated by low concentrations of biodegradable volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Important applications include control of odors generated by wastewater treatment plants and control of VOC emissions from industrial sources. Although there have been many successful applications, several operational problems have been reported in the literature. These include difficulty in control over bed moisture content, high head loss caused by excessive biomass production, and inability to maintain removal efficiency during transient periods of high concentration loading. Use of a superior packing medium may be able to mitigate these difficulties. The research described herein was directed toward development and evaluation of novel biofilter packing media for use in aerobic biodegradation of VOCs present in contaminated air. Several types of media comprised of polyurethane foam and powdered activate (PAC) were manufactured and tested for suitability as biofilter packing media. Experiments were conducted to determine the media’s porosity, head loss, chemical resistance, and sorption capacity for several VOCs commonly present in industrial waste gases. Compounds tested included toluene, p-xylene, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and 4-methyl-2-pentanone (MIBK). These compounds are commonly used solvents that are found in the off-gases of many industrial processes including painting operations. Batch sorption experiments were conducted for equilibrium conditions (serum bottle studies), and fixed-bed studies were conducted for dynamic loading conditions (column studies). Appropriate mathematical models were applied to describe adsorption and desorption behavior of polyurethane foam for the VOCs tested. Bed depth service time analysis was used to predict the performance of the reactor under different experimental conditions. Results reported herein indicate that polyurethane foam containing activated carbon contains the properties desirable for biofilter packing media. Such media are promising candidates for use in biofilters that are operated using sequencing batch operation.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

William M. Moe