Treatment of Paint Spray Booth Off-Gases in a Fungal Biofilter

by Bing Qi, (M.ASCE), Graduate Research Assistant; Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6405.,
William M. Moe, (corresponding author), (M.ASCE), Associate Professor; Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Louisiana State Univ. Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6405,,
Kerry A. Kinney, (M.ASCE), Associate Professor; Dept. of Civil Engineering, Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78758.,

Serial Information: Issue 2, Pg. 180-189

Document Type: Journal Paper

Abstract: Biological processes, most notably biofilters and biotrickling filters, are increasingly used to remove and biodegrade a wide variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in gas streams emitted from industrial operations. In the research described herein, a laboratory-scale biofilter was operated for a period of more than 180 days to treat a waste gas comprised of a four-component VOC mixture representative of solvents present in off-gases emitted by painting operations. The biofilter, packed with a cubed polyurethane foam media and initially inoculated with a pure culture of the fungus Cladosporium sphaerospermum, was maintained under acidic conditions throughout the duration of the experiments. The system was supplied with a mixture of n-butyl acetate, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl propyl ketone, and toluene with influent concentrations of 124, 50.5, 174, and 44.6 mg m.³, respectively. The biofilter's empty bed residence time (EBRT) was varied from 2.0 min to 15 s. When the influent gas stream was properly humidified, the system exhibited stable long-term performance with an average total VOC removal greater than 98% even with an EBRT as low as 15 s. Under the loading condition tested, this corresponds to an average elimination capacity of 92 g m.³ h.1. VOC concentration profiles measured along the height of the biofilter revealed a distinct VOC degradation pattern that was observed under all loading conditions tested. Although the column was initially inoculated with only Cladosporium sphaerospermum, several additional species of fungi tentatively identified as Penicillium brevicompactum, Exophiala jenselmei, Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium nygamai, Talaromyces flavus, and Fonsecaea pedrosi were found growing attached to the packing medium by the end of experiment. Results demonstrate that fungal biofilters can consistently maintain high removal efficiency for paint VOC mixtures over extended periods of operation. The results also indicate that it would be difficult and likely unnecessary to maintain specific species in full-scale fungal biofilters treating paint spray booth emissions.

Subject Headings: Biological processes | Filtration | Microbes | Volatile organic compounds | Mixtures | Influents | Waste treatment |

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