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Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Vol. 42, Nos.

56, 2006

INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY

IN A BIOFILTER

P. Baltrenas and A. Zagorskis

The PHOENICS 3.5 software package has been used to simulate aerodynamic processes in a biofilter.
Studies have been done on the dynamics of the flow speed at various initial speeds, and also the hydraulic
resistance with one, three, or five layers of biomaterial.

Biological systems are increasingly used to clean air. To simulate the aerodynamic processes occurring in the main
part of such a system (the biofilter with biological filling), use has been made of the PHOENICS 3.5 software package [13],
which has also been used to simulate the porosity of the biomaterial in relation to the hydraulic resistance, number of layers,
and porosity.
The processes in a biofilter (Fig. 1) may be simulated by introducing the following into the program: equipment
parameters (a = 500 mm, b = 480 mm, H = 2000 mm), five layers of biomaterial (h = 150 mm), and initial speeds of the inlet
air uv = 1.8 and 1.2 m/sec, porosity of material = 6065%.
A basic biofilter characteristic is the hydraulic resistance p, which determines the performance. It is important to
provide the closest correspondence between the model and the real conditions. In a biofilter (Fig. 1), the material (sorbent)
has consisted of various fractions of spruce bark: in the first layer at the bottom, the 70 mm fraction; in the second and third,
50 mm; and in the fourth and fifth, 25 mm. This gives a fairly complicated geometrical system. The mean radius r of the frac-
tions by layers was about 35, 25, and 12.5 mm [4].
The air flow is considered as an average homogeneous medium passing through with the mean velocity uv, and then in
accordance with the NavierStokes equations
2p = (uv 2)uv uv, (1)

in which is the density of the air in kg/m3 and is the viscosity of air in Nsec/m2.
We solve (1) to determine p, which is dependent on the porosity of the material and on the size and shape of the
bulk fractions and the Reynolds number.
Biological air cleaning is usually conducted at low speeds, so we can neglect the inertial forces, namely the second
term in (1) [3], and then
2p = (uv 2)uv. (2)

When the air flows in the narrow bark pore channels [2]

32 X u v
2 p = , (3)
2
def

in which X is the thickness of the biomaterial layer in m and def is the diameter of the bark pore channels in mm.

Gediminas Technical University, Vilnius. Translated from Khimicheskoe i Neftegazovoe Mashinostroenie, No. 5,
pp. 4142, May, 2006.

3

H
2

b a

Fig. 1. Biofilter scheme: 1) air inlet; 2) material layers; 3) air outlet.

1.314 0.607

1.352 0.662
Air flow speed, m/sec

1.421 0.782

1.651 1.072

1.701 1.101

1.800 1.200

a b

Fig. 2. Dynamics of air speed in biofilter for initial velocities of 1.8 m/sec (a) and 1.2 m/sec (b).
The arrows show the air flow direction.

On Darcys law, the hydraulic resistance of a filter material takes the form

K0u v X
p = , (4)
r2

in which K0 is the hydraulic resistance coefficient for the material (Pa) as expressed in relation to the mean radius of the bark
fraction r (mm).
In this research, we examined the air flow speed with initial speeds of 1.8 and 1.2 m/sec (Fig. 2).

279
1.502 1.820 2.014

7.142 9.144 10.92

Hydraulic resistance, Pa

15.04 70.28 175.3

a b c

Fig. 3. Behavior of hydraulic resistance of biofilter with one layer (a), three layers (b), and five layers (c).

The air is supplied to the lower part of a filter. When the initial speed is 1.8 m/sec (Fig. 2a), after passage through the
first layer containing 70 mm bark fraction the speed is reduced to 1.73 m/sec, and after the fourth and fifth layers, to 1.33 m/sec,
i.e., the largest hydraulic resistance occurs in the first layer. After passage through the fifth layer, the speed is gradually reduced
from 1.33 to 1.31 m/sec.
With an initial speed of 1.2 m/sec (Fig. 2b), the speed is reduced to 1.1 m/sec by the first layer, while after the fifth it
is reduced to 0.61 m/sec. Then with an initial speed of 1.8 m/sec, the five layers reduce the speed by a factor 1.4, while with
an initial speed of 1.2 m/sec, the reduction is by a factor 2, so it is best to reduce the initial speed because then one gets the
best performance in cleaning the air because of more prolonged contact between the microorganisms and the pollutants [4].
We also examined the resistance of the layers containing activated bark. The biofilter (Fig. 1) with one layer in the
fraction 70 mm (Fig. 3a) with a flow rate of 150 m3/h had a hydraulic resistance of about 15 Pa , and after that layer, 1.5 Pa.
With three layers (Fig. 3b), the resistance increased to 70.3 Pa; after the first layer the resistance decreased to 48.2 Pa,
after the second, to 28.2 Pa, and after the third, to 9.14 Pa. In the passage of the air through these layers, the pressure in the
apparatus uniformly fell by 1.82 Pa. The cleaning performance increases with the number of layers, since there is more pro-
longed contact of the microorganisms with the pollutants.
With five layers, the resistance was 175.3 Pa. Although the largest resistance occurred with the first layer, the fifth
layer with the 25 mm fraction had a resistance of 90 Pa. The resistance after five layers was 5.5 Pa and uniformly decreased
to 2 Pa.
The resistance thus increases with the layers, and the maximal resistance occurs in the initial part of the filter (at the
maximum working load), after which it decreases. With an air flow rate of 150 m3/h, the changes in the aerodynamic pro-
cesses were small and were dependent on the fraction size (spruce bark).
One gets better performance in cleaning the air by increasing the number of layers, since this provides the longest
contact of the microorganisms with the pollutants.

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