Biological treatment of mixtures of toluene and n-hexane vapours in a hollow fibre membrane bioreactor.
Membrane bioreactors are gaining interest for the control of contaminated air streams. In this study, the removal of toluene and n-hexane vapours in a hollow fibre membrane bioreactor (HFMB) was investigated. The focus was on quantifying the possible interactions occurring during the simultaneous biotreatment of the two volatile pollutants. Two lab-scale units fitted with microporous polypropylene hollow fibre membranes were connected in series and inoculated with activated sludge. Contaminated air was passed through the lumen at gas residence times ranging from 2.3 to 9.4 s while a pollutant-degrading biofilm developed on the shell side of the fibres. When toluene was treated alone, very high elimination capacities (up to 750 g m(-3) h(-1) based on lumen volume, or 1.25 g m(-2) h(-1) when normalized by the hollow fibre membrane area) were reached. When toluene and hexane were treated simultaneously, toluene biodegradation was partially inhibited by n-hexane, resulting in lower toluene removal rates. On the other hand, hexane removal was only marginally affected by the presence of toluene and was degraded at very high rates (upwards of 440 g m(-3) h(-1) or 0.73 g m(-2) h(-1) without breakthrough). Overall, this study demonstrates that mixtures of toluene and n-hexane vapours can be effectively removed in hollow fibre membrane bioreactors and that complex biological interactions may affect one or more of the pollutants undergoing treatment in gas-phase membrane bioreactors.
Zhao, K; Xiu, G; Xu, L; Zhang, D; Zhang, X; Deshusses, MA
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