Optimization of a horizontal-flow biofilm reactor for the removal of methane at low temperatures

Clifford, E., Kennelly, C., Walsh, R., Gerrity, S., Reilly, E.O. and Collins, G. (2012) Optimization of a horizontal-flow biofilm reactor for the removal of methane at low temperatures. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association, 62(10), pp. 1166-1173. (doi:10.1080/10962247.2012.699441)

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Abstract

Three pilot-scale, horizontal-flow biofilm reactors (HFBRs 1-3) were used to treat methane (CH4)-contaminated air to assess the potential of this technology to manage emissions from agricultural activities, waste and wastewater treatment facilities, and landfills. The study was conducted over two phases (Phase 1, lasting 90 days and Phase 2, lasting 45 days). The reactors were operated at 10 degrees C (typical of ambient air and wastewater temperatures in northern Europe), and were simultaneously dosed with CH4-contaminated air and a synthetic wastewater (SWW). The influent loading rates to the reactors were 8.6 g CH4/m3/hr (4.3 g CH4/m2 TPSA/hr; where TPSA is top plan surface area). Despite the low operating temperatures, an overall average removal of 4.63 g CH4/m3/day was observed during Phase 2. The maximum removal efficiency (RE) for the trial was 88%. Potential (maximum) rates of methane oxidation were measured and indicated that biofilm samples taken from various regions in the HFBRs had mostly equal CH4 removal potential. In situ activity rates were dependent on which part of the reactor samples were obtained. The results indicate the potential of the HFBR, a simple and robust technology, to biologically treat CH4 emissions. Implications: The results of this study indicate that the HFBR technology could be effectively applied to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment plants and agricultural facilities at lower temperatures common to northern Europe. This could reduce the carbon footprint of waste treatment and agricultural livestock facilities. Activity tests indicate that methanotrophic communities can be supported at these temperatures. Furthermore, these data can lead to improved reactor design and optimization by allowing conditions to be engineered to allow for improved removal rates, particularly at lower temperatures. The technology is simple to construct and operate, and with some optimization of the liquid phase to improve mass transfer, the HFBR represents a viable, cost-effective solution for these emissions.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Collins, Dr Gavin
Authors: Clifford, E., Kennelly, C., Walsh, R., Gerrity, S., Reilly, E.O., and Collins, G.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Infrastructure and Environment
Journal Name:Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN:1096-2247
ISSN (Online):2162-2906

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