Evaluation of trickle bed biofilter media for toluene removal

George A. Serial, Francis L. Smith, Makram T. Suidan, Pratim Biswas, Richard O. Brenner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


In this research, pilot-scale trickle bed biofilter systems have been analyzed to determine their effectiveness in controlling toluene in waste gas streams. These studies evaluated two synthetic microbial attachment media-a monolithic channelized medium and a pelletized ceramic medium. Operational parameters considered included toluene loading, empty bed residence time (EBRT), temperature, and long-term operation. The channelized medium provided 99% removal efficiency for a toluene loading of 0.725 kg COD/m3-day during the initial stages. However, continuous operation resulted in reduced and erratic efficiencies, due to air channeling caused by random plugging. After biomass accumulated within the channels and was subsequently removed by hosing, performance of the channelized medium never regained the previous levels. Similarly, the pelletized medium exhibited consistently good performance until the accumulation of excess biomass in the medium interstices also caused overall performance to deteriorate. Implementation of a suitable backwashing strategy for biomass control was achieved for the pelletized medium by using full medium fluidization. This strategy permitted long-term operation of the biofilter at a toluene loading of 2.27 kg COD/m3-day and 1 minute EBRT, with efficiencies consistently over 99% and no appreciable back-pressure development between successive periods of backwashing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-810
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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