Two models describing the stripping of volatile organic contaminants (VOCs) in an industrial trickling filter system are developed. The aim of the models is to investigate the effect of different operating conditions (VOC loads and air flow rates) on the efficiency of VOC stripping and the resulting concentrations in the gas and liquid phases. The first model uses the same principles as the steady-state non-equilibrium activated sludge model SimpleTreat, in combination with an existing biofilm model. The second model is a simple mass balance based model only incorporating air and liquid and thus neglecting biofilm effects.
In a first approach, the first model was incorporated in a five-layer hydrodynamic model of the trickling filter, using the carrier material design specifications for porosity, water hold-up and specific surface area. A tracer test with lithium was used to validate this approach, and the gas mixing in the filters was studied using continuous CO2 and O2 measurements. With the tracer test results, the biodegradation model was adapted, and it became clear that biodegradation and adsorption to solids can be neglected. On this basis, a simple dynamic mass balance model was built. Simulations with this model reveal that changing the air flow rate in the trickling filter system has little effect on the VOC stripping efficiency at steady state. However, immediately after an air flow rate change, quite high flux and concentration peaks of VOCs can be expected. These phenomena are of major importance for the design of an off-gas treatment facility.