Startup and long-term performance of biotrickling filters packed with polyurethane foam and poplar wood chips treating a mixture of ethylmercaptan, H2S, and NH3

J. Hernandez, J. Lafuente, O. J. Prado, D. Gabriel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Treatment of a mixture of NH3, H2S, and ethylmercaptan (EM) was investigated for more than 15 months in two biotrickling filters packed with poplar wood chips and polyurethane foam. Inlet loads ranging from 5 to 10 g N-NH3 m(3) hr(1), from 5 to 16 g S-H2S m(3) hr(1), and from 0 to 5 g EM m(3) hr(1) were applied. During startup, the biotrickling filter packed with polyurethane foam was re-inoculated due to reduced biomass retention as well as a stronger effect of nitrogen compounds inhibition compared with the biotrickling filter packed with poplar wood. Accurate pH control between 7 and 7.5 favored pollutants abatement. In the long run, complete NH3 removal in the gas phase was achieved in both reactors, while H2S removal efficiencies exceeded 90%. EM abatement was significantly different in both reactors. A systematically lower elimination capacity was found in the polyurethane foam bioreactor. N fractions in the liquid phase proved that high nitrification rates were reached throughout steady-state operation in both bioreactors. CO2 production showed the extent of the organic packing material degradation, which allowed estimating its service lifetime in around 2 years. In the long run, the bioreactor packed with the organic packing material had a lower stability. However, an economic analysis indicated that poplar wood chips are a competitive alternative to inorganic packing materials in biotrickling filters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-471
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013


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