A rotating drum biofilter (RDB) with multi-layered foam media was developed for the improvement of current biofiltration technology. The biofilter was used to investigate the effects of organic loadings and influent volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations on VOC removal efficiency and biomass accumulation. These effects were evaluated using diethyl ether and toluene separately as model VOCs at an empty bed contact time (EBCT) of 30 s. When the toluene loading increased from 2.0 to 4.0 and 8.0 kgCOD m-3 day-1, toluene removal efficiency of the biofilter decreased from over 99% to 78% and 74%, respectively. The biomass distribution was found to be more even within the medium when removing toluene than when removing diethyl ether. Higher organic loading also resulted in the more even distribution of the biomass. The ratios of biomass accumulation rates in the medium of the outermost, middle and innermost layers ranged from 1:0.11:0.02 when removing diethyl ether at 2.0 kgCOD m-3 day-1 to1:0.69:0.51 when removing toluene at 8.0 kgCOD m-3 day-1. Review of these ratios revealed three biomass accumulation patterns: surface pattern, in-depth pattern and shallow pattern. Different patterns represent different removal mechanisms in the biofiltration process. Improved biofilter design and operation should be based on the biomass accumulation pattern.

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