Modeling the effects of biomass accumulation on the performance of a biotrickling filter packed with PUF support for the alkaline biotreatment of dimethyl disulfide vapors in air


Excess biomass buildup in biotrickling filters leads to low performance. The effect of biomass accumulation in a biotrickling filter (BTF) packed with polyurethane foam (PUF) was assessed in terms of hydrodynamics and void space availability in a system treating dimethyl disulfide (DMDS) vapors with an alkaliphilic consortium. A sample of colonized support from a BTF having been operating for over a year was analyzed, and it was found that the BTF void bed fraction was reduced to almost half of that calculated initially without biomass. Liquid flow through the examined BTF yielded dispersion coefficient values of 0.30 and 0.72 m2 h−1, for clean or colonized PUF, respectively. 3D images of attached biomass obtained with magnetic resonance imaging allowed to calculate the superficial area and the biofilm volume percentage and depth as 650 m2 m−3, 35 %, and 0.6 mm respectively. A simplified geometric approximation of the complex PUF structure was proposed using an orthogonal 3D mesh that predicted 600 m2 m−3 for the same biomass content. With this simplified model, it is suggested that the optimum biomass content would be around 20 % of bed volume. The activity of the microorganisms was evaluated by respirometry and the kinetics represented with a Haldane equation type. Experimentally determined parameters were used in a mathematical model to simulate the DMDS elimination capacity (EC), and better description was found when the removal experimental data were matched with a model including liquid axial dispersion in contrast to an ideal plug flow model.

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The authors would like to thank Conacyt for financing this project (I0017-166451) and the scholarship of LAG. To AECID for granting the funds for LAG internship in the UPC-Barcelona through project A2/037075/11. And to Rafael Lara and the Ci3M center for MRI analysis.

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Correspondence to Sergio Revah.

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Arellano-García, L., Dorado, A.D., Morales-Guadarrama, A. et al. Modeling the effects of biomass accumulation on the performance of a biotrickling filter packed with PUF support for the alkaline biotreatment of dimethyl disulfide vapors in air. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 99, 97–107 (2015).

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  • Biotrickling filter
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Biofilm
  • Modeling
  • Dimethyl disulfide
  • Liquid dispersion