Odour from agricultural activities, such as the spreading of manure and the housing of animals, is increasingly being considered a nuisance in densely populated countries like the Netherlands. The objective of this research was to study the odour removal from pig house exhaust air by a biotrickling filter that had been implemented for ammonia abatement. At a regular pig production farm, the performance of a running full-scale biotrickling filter was studied for 72 days. Ammonia and odour removal efficiency were on average 79% and 49% respectively. Ammonia removal appeared to be based on an unintended accumulation of ammonium and nitrite in the system, instead of on production and discharge of nitrate. The odour removal efficiency showed a large variation that, for a major part, about 80%, could be attributed to actual changes in the performance of the biotrickling filter. These changes were probably caused by variations in the composition of the air that were not completely reflected by the olfactometrically measured odour concentration, as the many different components that make up the odour each have different removal characteristics. It seemed that the biotrickling filter was operated below its maximum absolute odour removal capacity [OUE/(m3 filter)/s], which means that the absolute odour removal will probably rise at increasing load. It was, however, not possible to distinguish between the influence of either the odour load or the odour concentration on the odour removal, because of a positive correlation between the odour concentration and the air flow. To increase the odour removal efficiency (%), the design of the filter probably needs to be optimised for both well and poorly water-soluble odour components.

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