Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 177, Issue 1–4, pp 399–410 | Cite as

Biodegradation Kinetics and Effects of Operating Parameters on the Performance of a Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether Degrading Biofilter

  • Yi-Cheng Chiu
  • Chi-Wen Lin
  • Tsang-Chih Kao
  • Xiao-Yan Tang


The goals of the study were to determine the effectiveness of a laboratory-scale biofilter on the removal of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and investigate the operating parameter effects on biofilter performance. The experimental results show that average MTBE removals of 53.6–93.2% were observed at loads of 2.5–20.1 gm−3 h−1 and an empty-bed residence time of three minutes, after continuous operation for four months throughout the biofilter acclimation period. After a one-day recovery period operation, the biofilter system recovered from the introduction of a shock load. More than 99% removal efficiencies were achieved for the inlet MTBE concentration at 50 ppmv and with the highest residence time. MTBE removals at the bottom section of the biofilter were consistently lower than for the top section, which was attributed to insufficient microorganism growth in the bottom section. The parameters estimated by using the Michaelis-Menten equation were 1.116 ± 0.51 ppmv s−1 for the maximum removal rate (V m ), and 26.38 ± 17.21 ppmv for the half-saturation constant (Ks), evaluated at the biofilter exit.


biodegradation biofilter kinetics methyl tert-butyl ether removal efficiency start-up microbial acclimation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bohn, H. (1992). Consider Biofiltration for Decontaminating Gases. Chem. Engin. Prog. 65, 34–40.Google Scholar
  2. Devinny, J.S., Deshusses, M.A. and Webster, T.S. (1998). Biofiltration for Air Pollution Control, Lewis Publishers, CRC Press, pp. 320.Google Scholar
  3. Eweis, J., Chang, D.P., Schroeder, E.D. Scow, K.M., Morton R.L. and Caballero R.C. (1997). Meeting the Challenge of MTBE Biodegradation. Proceedings of the 90th Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the Air and Waste Management Association, Toronto, Canada, June 8-13, Paper 97-RA133.06.Google Scholar
  4. Fortin, N.Y. and Deshusses, M.A. (1999). Treatment of Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether Vapors in Biotrickling Filters. 1. Reactor Startup, Steady-State Performance, and Culture Characteristics. Environ. Sci. Technol. 33, 2980– 2986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gribbins, M.J. and Loehr, R.C. (1998). Effect of Media Nitrogen Concentration on Biofilter Performance. J. Air Wast. Manag. Assoc. 48, 216–226.Google Scholar
  6. Hartmans, S. and Tramper, J. (1991). Dichloromethane Removal from Waste Gases with a Trickle-Bed Bioreactor. Biopro. Engin. 6, 83–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hodge, D.S. and Devinny, J.S. (1995). Modelling Removal of Air Contaminants by Biofiltration. J. Environ. Engin. 121, 21–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Johnson, E.L., Smith, C.A., O'Reilly, K.T. and Hyman, M.R. (2004). Induction of Methyl-Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)-Oxidizing Activity in Mycobacterium Vaccae JOB5by MTBE. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70, 1023– 1030.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kennes, C. and Veiga, M.C. (2001). Bioreactors for Waste Gas Treatment, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp. 320.Google Scholar
  10. Khammar, N., Malhautier, L. Degrange, V., Lensi, R. and Fanlo, J.L. (2004). Evaluation of Dispersion Methods for Enumeration of Microorganisms from Peat and Activated Carbon Biofilters Treating Volatile Organic Compounds. Chemosph. 54, 243–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kim, N.J., Hirai, M. and Shoda, M. (2000). Comparison of Organic and Inorganic Packing Materials in the Removal of Ammonia Gas in Biofilters. J. Hazard. Mat. B72, 77– 90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Leson, G. and Winer, A.M. (1991). Biofiltration: an Innovative Air Pollution Control Technology for VOC Emissions. J. Air Wast. Manag. Assoc. 41, 1045–1054.Google Scholar
  13. Lin, C.W. and Li, J.H. (2005). Performance of a Biofilter on MTBE Removal. J. Sci. Engin. Technol. 2, 16– 25.Google Scholar
  14. Lu, C., Lin, M.R., Lin, J. and Chang, K. (2001). Removal of Ethylacetate Vapor from Waste Gases by a Trickle-Bed Air Biofilter. J. Biotechnol. 87, 123–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Squillace, P.J., Zogorski, J.S., Wilber, W.G. and Price, C.V. (1996). Preliminary Assessment of the Occurrence and Possible Sources of MTBE in Groundwater in the United States, 1993-1994. Environ. Sci. Technol. 30, 1721– 1730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Steffan, R.J., McClay, K., Vainberg, S., Condee, C.W. and Zhang, D. (1997). Biodegradation of the Gasoline Oxygenates Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether, Ethyl Tert-Butyl Ether, and Tert-Amyl Methyl Ether by Propane-Oxidizing Bacteria. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 63, 4216–4222.Google Scholar
  17. Unger, D.R., Lam, T.T., Schaefer, C.E. and Kosson, D.S. (1996). Predicting the Effect of Moisture on Vapour-Phase Sorption of Volatile Organic Compounds to Soils. Environ. Sci. Technol. 30, 1081–1091.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (1997). Drinking Water Advisory: Consumer Acceptability Advice and Health Effects Analysis on Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MtBE), EPA-822-F-97-009, USA.Google Scholar
  19. Yang, Y. and Allen, E.R. (1994). Biofiltration Control of Hydrogen Sulfide 1: Design and Operational Parameters. J. Air Wast. Manag. Assoc. 47, 37–48.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yi-Cheng Chiu
    • 1
  • Chi-Wen Lin
    • 2
  • Tsang-Chih Kao
    • 3
  • Xiao-Yan Tang
    • 4
  1. 1.Peking UniversityPekingChina
  2. 2.Department of Environmental EngineeringDa-Yeh UniversityChanghuaTaiwan
  3. 3.Da-Yeh UniversityDa-YehTaiwan
  4. 4.Peking UniversityPekingChina

Personalised recommendations