Macrokinetic and quantitative microbial investigation on a bench-scale biofilter treating styrene-polluted gaseous streams

Mario Zilli, Attilio Converti, Renzo Di Felice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


We performed a macrokinetic and quantitative microbial investigation of a continuously operating bench-scale biofilter treating styrene-polluted gases. The device was filled with a mixture of peat and glass beads as packing medium and inoculated with the styreneoxidizing strain, Rhodococcus rhodochrous AL NCIMB 13259. The experimental data of styrene and microbial concentrations, obtained at different biofilter heights, were used to evaluate the pollutant concentration profiles as well as the influence of styrene loading on biomass distribution along the packing medium. Styrene and biomass concentration profiles permitted detection of a linear relationship between the amount of biomass grown in a given section of the biofilter and that of pollutant removed, regardless of the operating conditions tested. Biomass development in the bed appeared to: depend linearly on pollutant concentration at an inlet styrene concentration of <0.10 g m-3 in the gaseous stream; achieve a maximum value (7 · 107 colony forming units per gram of packing material) within a wide styrene concentration range (0.10 to 1.0 g m-3); and fall sharply beyond this inhibition threshold. The process followed zeroth-order macrokinetics with respect to styrene concentration, which is consistent with zeroth-order microkinetics with either fully active or not fully active biofilm. The maximal volumetric styrene removal rate was found to be 63 g Mpacking material-3 h-1 for an influent pollutant concentration of 0.80 g m-3 and a superficial gas velocity of 245 m h-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 5 2003


  • Biofilter performance
  • Macrokinetics
  • Microbial concentration distribution
  • Rhodococcus rhodochrous
  • Specific styrene removal rate
  • Styrene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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