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An Innovative Role of Biofiltration in Wastewater Treatment Plants
2022, Pages 235-266

Microbial ecology of biofiltration

Hiren K.Patela, Rishee K. Kalariab, Bhikhu S. Morec, Priyanka H. Jokhakard, Mehul R. Khimania

School of Science, P. P. Savani University, Surat.


Biofilter is a media bed to which different types of micro-organisms, macro-organisms, and extracellular polymeric substrates are attached and form a biological layer often known as biofilm. To improve water or air quality it plays a significant role in the treatment of organic and inorganic pollutants from a range of industrial and wastewater treatment systems. It uses naturally available biological media such as soil, peat, compost etc. or synthetic support media that can be manufactured from plastic, ceramic, metallic or any other composite materials and can be coated with activated carbon to enhance contaminant adsorption. Microorganisms present in the media biodegrade the pollutants by following three biological processes, i.e. microorganism attachment, microorganism development and microorganism decay and detachment. Mechanisms for trickling biofilter include: (a) Diffusion to the active biofilm surface of pollutants from the bulk gas flow (b) Contaminant adsorption directly onto the biofilter surface (c) Solubilization of contaminants into biofilm water (d) Direct adsorption of contaminant to the support media surface (e) Diffusion and biodegradation of Active Biofilm pollutants (f) Contaminant surface spread on the support media surface (g) Back diffusion of adsorbed pollutants from the surface of support media into active biofilm. Biofilters may be used to treat aliphatic, aromatic and chlorinated hydrocarbons, amines, nitrile, alcohol, aldehyde, ester, inorganic compounds, ketones, terpenes etc. In the treatment of waste water and soil, Nitrosomonas, Nitrobacter, Microalgae, Pseudomonas and many other species are used to produce biofilters. Water composition, media types, feeding strategy, temperature, aeration, biofilm age, and hydraulic pressure for biofilter are some of the parameters that affect the biofilter performance. Biofiltration provides many advantages, such as allowing micro-organisms to grow consistently at low natural biofilm growth levels, less prone to unpredictable or intermittent loading and hydraulic shock, low operational costs compared to activated sludge and low CO2 emissions, etc. Bioclogging is the only downside because of organism growth and biomass accumulation but this problem can be solved by physical or chemical process. Potential biofilter market would include: (1) Treatment of odors (2) Treatment of volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants (3) Treatment of petroleum hydrocarbon etc.

Keywords: Biofilter, Biofilm, Biological media, Bioclogging and Biofiltration.

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