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A Serial Biofiltration System for Effective Removal of Low-Concentration Nitrous Oxide in Oxic Gas Streams: Mathematical Modeling of Reactor Performance and Experimental Validation

Yoon, Hyun, Song, Min Joon, Kim, Daehyun D., Sabba, Fabrizio, Yoon, Sukhwan
Environmental science & technology 2019 v.53 no.4 pp. 2063-2074
anthropogenic activities, biofilters, biofiltration, greenhouse gases, mathematical models, nitrous oxide, oxygen, wastewater, wastewater treatment
Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are among the major anthropogenic sources of N₂O, a major greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting agent. We recently devised a zero-energy zero-carbon biofiltration system easily applicable to activated sludge-type WWTPs and performed lab-scale proof-of-concept experiments. The major drawback of the system was the diminished performance observed when fully oxic gas streams were treated. Here, a serial biofiltration system was tested as a potential improvement. A laboratory system with three serially positioned biofilters, each receiving a separate feed of artificial wastewater, was fed N₂O-containing gas streams of varied flow rates (200–2000 mL·min–¹) and O₂ concentrations (0–21%). Use of the serial setup substantially improved the reactor performance. Fed fully oxic gas at a flow rate of 1000 mL·min–¹, the system removed N₂O at an elimination capacity of 0.402 ± 0.009 g N₂O·m–³·h–¹ (52.5% removal), which was approximately 2.4-fold higher than that achieved with a single biofilter, 0.171 ± 0.024 g N₂O·m–³·h–¹. These data were used to validate the mathematical model developed to estimate the performance of the N₂O biofiltration system. The Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency indices ranged from 0.78 to 0.93, confirming high predictability, and the model provided mechanistic insights into aerobic N₂O removal and the performance enhancement achieved with the serial configuration.