Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 100, Issue 6, pp 2843–2853 | Cite as

Applying trait-function relationships for microbial plant decomposition to predict medium longevity in pollution control biofilters

Environmental biotechnology


Biofilters, bioreactors used for pollution control, can effectively treat a variety of odorous and hazardous emissions, but uncertain medium longevities and associated costs limit biofilter adoption. To improve medium-life estimations for biofilter end-users, litter bags were used to compare decay rates of common biofilter medium types and test the effects of nitrogen (N) enrichment and livestock production emissions on medium decay in a full-scale biofilter over a 27-month period. Generally, “by-product” media (mulch, corn cobs) decayed faster than hardwood media, with decay of softwood media the slowest. Analysis showed nutrient content was the best predictor of early-stage decay, while carbon fractions and nutrient content best predicted medium longevity. N amendments and N-rich barn emissions were found to hasten medium decay. By identifying decay rates and rate predictors specific for biofilter media, we provide biofilter engineers and farmers with a quantitative way to improve medium selection based on the trade-offs between medium cost and replacement frequency.


Bioreactor Media Decay rate Litter bag Nitrogen 

Supplementary material

253_2015_7134_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.6 mb)
ESM 1(PDF 1618 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems EngineeringUniversity of Minnesota, Kaufert LaboratorySt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Institute on the EnvironmentUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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