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Biofilter with mixture of pine bark and expanded clay as packing material for methane treatment in lab-scale experiment and field-scale implementation


Low methane (CH4) emission reduction efficiency (< 25%) has been prevalent due to inefficient biological exhaust gas treatment facilities in mechanic biological waste treatment plants (MBTs) in Germany. This study aimed to quantify the improved capacity of biofilters composed of a mixture of organic (pine bark) and inorganic (expanded clay) packing materials in reducing CH4 emissions in both a lab-scale experiment and field-scale implementation. CH4 removal performance was evaluated using lab-scale biofilter columns under varied inflow CH4 concentrations (70, 130, and 200 g m−3) and corresponding loading rates of 8.2, 4.76, and 3.81 g m−3 h−1, respectively. The laboratory CH4 removal rates (1.2–2.2 g m−3 h−1) showed positive correlation with the inflow CH4 loading rates (4–8.2 g m−3 h−1), indicating high potential for field-scale implementation. Three field-scale biofilter systems with the proposed mixture packing materials were constructed in an MBT in Neumünster, northern Germany. A relatively stable CH4 removal efficiency of 38–50% was observed under varied inflow CH4 concentrations of 28–39 g m−3 (loading rates of 1120–2340 g m−3 h−1) over a 24-h period. The CH4 removal rate was approximately 500–700 g m−3 h−1, which was significantly higher than relevant previously reported field-scale biofilter systems (16–50 g m−3 h−1). The present study provides a promising configuration of biofilter systems composed of a mixture of organic (pine bark) and inorganic (expanded clay) packing materials to achieve high CH4 emission reduction.

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Mark Kurzbuch, Dietmar Schneider (MBA), Birgit Grabellus, and Wilfried Gläseker are acknowledged for their valuable assistance with the experiment conduction and data analysis.


This work was financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, support code 033RD1102B), National key research and development plan (2018YFD0800102), the Beijing Municipal Education Commission Joint Building Project, and the China Scholarship Council.

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Correspondence to Jianbin Guo.

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Responsible editor: Angeles Blanco


• CH4 emissions from waste treatment plants urgently require improved treatment

• Biofilters with a mixture organic and inorganic packing materials were tested

• The lab-scale biofilter provides stable CH4 removal under fluctuating conditions

• The configured field-scale biofilter achieved high CH4 removal when implemented

• Pine bark and expanded clay are promising mixture packing materials for biofilters

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Liu, F., Wienke, C., Fiencke, C. et al. Biofilter with mixture of pine bark and expanded clay as packing material for methane treatment in lab-scale experiment and field-scale implementation. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 31297–31306 (2018).

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