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Content archived on 2024-04-16

Abatement of large intractable organic emission sources by the use of biological processes


The project is aimed at investigating the use of biological techniques for treating atmospheric emissions containing volatile organic compounds and chlorinated solvents.

Volatile organic compounds and other solvents play an important role in a range of transboundary pollution issues and have adverse effects on human health. Because emissions of these compounds can take place from small and medium size businesses there is a need for simple, robust devices that can be used effectively to reduce such emissions. In principle, biological methods provide a means of converting harmful substances into simple molecules, such as carbon dioxide and water, without consuming large amounts of energy. However, many of the compounds are biologically recalcitrant and the scientific understanding of the technique needs improving before it can be practically applied to a range of emission sources and compounds. 2 different types of biological treatment techniques are available, bioscrubbers and biofilters.

The work will involve a detailed study of the use of biofilters and bioscrubbers for treating emissions containing butanone and trichloroethylene. These 2 model compounds have been selected as they are representative of a range of compounds known to be important in causing air pollution. The 2 compounds also represent very different challenges to the biological treatment techniques.

The scientific work programme will be directed at obtaining data for modelling, understanding the degradation kinetics, and studying the stability, efficiency, reproducibility and maximum loading of the biological abatement systems. Where necessary, specialised microorganisms, suitable for degrading particularly recalcitrant compounds, will be developed and characterized. In addition to laboratory studies of model systems, practical testing will be undertaken in realistic industrial environments. Through modelling studies, the development of protocols and characterizing a range of sources, it will be possible to make recommendations as to how the technique can be applied to emissions from other sources.


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Business Unit of TNO Built Environment and Geosciences
EU contribution
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Van Mourik Broekmanweg 6

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Participants (2)