Journal of Hazardous Materials, Vol.250, 190-197, 2013
A comparative study of fungal and bacterial biofiltration treating a VOC mixture
Bacterial biofilters usually exhibit a high microbial diversity and robustness, while fungal biofilters have been claimed to better withstand low moisture contents and pH values, and to be more efficient coping with hydrophobic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, there are only few systematic evaluations of both biofiltration technologies. The present study compared fungal and bacterial biofiltration for the treatment of a VOC mixture (propanal, methyl isobutyl ketone-MIBK, toluene and hexanol) under the same operating conditions. Overall, fungal biofiltration supported lower elimination capacities than its bacterial counterpart (27.7 +/- 8.9 vs 40.2 +/- 5.4 g C m(-3) reactor h(-1)), which exhibited a final pressure drop 60% higher than that of the bacterial biofilter due to mycelial growth. The VOC mineralization ratio was also higher in the bacterial bed (approximate to 63% vs approximate to 43%). However, the substrate biodegradation preference order was similar for both biofilters (propanal > hexanol > MIBK > toluene) with propanal partially inhibiting the consumption of the rest of the VOCs. Both systems supported an excellent robustness versus 24 h VOC starvation episodes. The implementation of a fungal/bacterial coupled system did not significantly improve the VOC removal performance compared to the individual biofilter performances. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.