Capillary microbioreactors for VOC vapor treatment: Impacts of operating conditions.
Micro-capillary bioreactors (1 mm ID, 10 cm long) were investigated for the biodegradation of toluene vapors as a model volatile organic compound (VOC). The intended application is the removal of VOCs from indoor air, when such microbioreactor is coupled with a microconcentrator that intermittently delivers high concentrations of VOCs to the bioreactor for effective treatment. The effects of key operating conditions were investigated. Specifically, gas film and liquid film mass transfer coefficients were determined for different gas and liquid velocities. Both mass transfer coefficients increased with gas or liquid velocity, respectively, and the overall gas-liquid mass transfer was dominated by the liquid-side resistance. Experiments with the microbioreactors focused on the effects of gas velocity, liquid velocity and mineral medium renewal rate on the treatment of toluene vapors at different inlet concentrations. The best performance in terms of toluene removal and mineralization to CO2 was obtained when the gas and liquid velocity ratio was close to one and achieving Taylor or slug flow pattern. Sustained treatment over extended periods of time with toluene elimination capacities ranging from 4000 to over 9000 g m-3 h-1 were obtained, which is orders of magnitude greater than conventional biofilters and biotrickling filters. Biological limitations generally played a more important role than mass transfer limitation. Continuous mineral medium supply at a high rate (10 h liquid retention time) enabled pH control and provided ample nutrient supply and therefore resulted in better toluene elimination and mineralization. Overall, these studies helped select the most suitable conditions for high performance and sustained operation.
López de León, LR; Deaton, KE; Junkin, J; Deshusses, MA
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