Effect of starvation on the performance and re-acclimation of biotrickling filters for air pollution control.
Biotrickling filters for air pollution control are expected to encounter fluctuating conditions or periods without pollutant supply. In the present study, we investigated the effect of pollutant starvation in bench-scale biotrickling filters treating toluene. The experimental protocol consisted of starving biotrickling filters under various conditions: with or without airflow, with or without liquid recycle, and with or without an alternate carbon source (glucose) supply. The duration of the period without toluene was varied from 2 to 9 days, during time which the biotrickling filters were monitored for biomass content, endogenous and toluene-induced oxygen uptake rates during starvation, and toluene overall elimination capacity after restart. During starvation, all reactors lost their ability to degrade toluene within 5 days, regardless of the mode of starvation. The biomass content significantly decreased during starvation, in particular in those reactors where the recycle liquid was maintained, but this decrease was not critical for future re-acclimation. Glucose addition to starved biotrickling filters had several detrimental effects. It resulted in a faster decrease of the biomass content and slowed the reacclimation phase. Overall, the results show that the reacclimation of toluene-degrading biotrickling filters after periods of nonuse is short (10-24 h to re-establish full performance), and they suggest that, in the case of toluene-degrading biotrickling filters, re-acclimation time is largely governed by the induction of key pollutant-degrading enzymes.
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