Removal of benzene and toluene from a refinery waste air stream by water sorption and biotrickling filtration
The paper presents the results of an analysis of a two-stage pilot plant for the removal of toluene and benzene from the exhaust air of an industrial wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The two-stage air process combines a water scrubber and a biotrickling filter (BTF) in sequence, and treats air stripped from the liquid phase compartments of the WWTP. During the experimental period, the pilot plant treated an airflow of 600 Nm3h-1. Average concentrations of the waste air stream entering the water scrubber were 10.61 mg Nm-3 benzene and 9.26 mg Nm-3 toluene. The water scrubber obtained medium-high removal efficiencies (averages 51% and 60%, for benzene and toluene, respectively). Subsequent passage through the BTF allowed a further reduction of average concentrations, which decreased to 2.10 mg Nm-3 benzene and to 0.84 mg Nm-3 toluene, thereby allowing overall average removal efficiencies (REs) of 80% and 91% for benzene and toluene, respectively. Results prove the benefits obtained from a combination of different removal technologies: water scrubbers to remove peak concentrations and soluble compounds, and BTFs to remove compounds with lower solubility, due to the biodegradation performed by microorganisms.