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High-temperature biotrickling filtration of hydrogen sulphide


Biofiltration of malodorous reduced sulphur compounds such as hydrogen sulphide has been confined to emissions that are at temperatures below 40°C despite the fact that there are many industrial emissions (e.g. in the pulp and paper industry) at temperatures well above 40°C. This paper describes our study on the successful treatment of hydrogen sulphide gas at temperatures of 40, 50, 60 and 70°C using a microbial community obtained from a hot spring. Three biotrickling filter (BTF) systems were set up in parallel for a continuous run of 9 months to operate at three different temperatures, one of which was always at 40°C as a mesophilic control and the other two were for exploring high-temperature operation up to 70°C. The continuous experiment and a series of batch experiments in glass bottles (250 ml) showed that addition of glucose and monosodium glutamate enhanced thermophilic biofiltration of hydrogen sulphide gas and a removal rate of 40 g m−3 h−1 was achieved at 70°C. We suggest that the glucose is acting as a carbon source for the existing microbial community in the BTFs, whereas glutamate is acting as a compatible solute. The use of such organic compounds to enhance biodegradation of hydrogen sulphide, particularly at high temperatures, has not been demonstrated to our knowledge and, hence, has opened up a range of possibilities for applying biofiltration to hot gas effluent.

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The financial support of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the research consortium “Minimizing the Impact of Pulp and Paper Mill Discharges,” consisting of Aracruz Celulose S.A., Carter Holt Harvey Tasman, Domtar Inc., Eka Chemicals Inc., Georgia-Pacific Corporation, Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd., Japan Carlit Co. Ltd., ERCO Worldwide (formerly Sterling Pulp Chemicals, Ltd.) and Tembec Inc., is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to D. Grant Allen.

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Datta, I., Fulthorpe, R.R., Sharma, S. et al. High-temperature biotrickling filtration of hydrogen sulphide. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 74, 708–716 (2007).

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