Biofiltration - A Disruptive Technology for Sustainable Air Pollution Control

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ABSTRACT
Air Pollution Control has emerged over the past 40 years as a significant industrial sector helping industrial facilities reduce emissions to comply with environmental regulations, reduce costs, and improve their public image. A variety of technologies have been developed to meet the needs of both the industries and the regulatory agencies.  Engineered biofiltration is a sustainable technology for VOC and odor control. In biofilters, the microbes consume the organic pollutants in the air stream as a food source and emit carbon dioxide and water vapor. Generally, the energy demands for biofiltration are one-fourth to one-tenth that of destructive technologies. Biofilters are being developed and effectively used for a wide variety of industries, including wood products, paint manufacturing, petroleum remediation, paint applicators, odor control, and many others.

Biofiltration may be considered a “disruptive technology,” with a slightly different set of strengths and weaknesses than mainstream control technologies. This biological technology slightly trails leading technologies in removal efficiencies, but the lower capital and operating costs can make pollution control available for an increasing portion
of industrial facilities.

The desire for sustainable technologies is growing for both economic and philosophical reasons. Industry is realizing that Pollution Prevention efforts pay big dividends, and that working with nature requires less energy than attempting to overcome nature by force.  Regulatory agencies are becoming more receptive to biofiltration, and are beginning to
recognize the benefits of pollution avoidance and energy savings. The present position and anticipated future of biofiltration technology will be described, citing examples from the wood products and paint and coatings industries.

INTRODUCTION
Through the years, market competition, economics, and advancing industrial technologies have helped industries to be more efficient with their raw materials and wastes and pushed them to reduce air emissions. Regulatory requirements for both air quality and worker exposure concerns have forced significant additional changes.

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