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Paint & Solvent Emission Control by Granulated Activated Carbon Biofiltration System

Introduction
The paint and coating industry is currently and has been under fire for some time by employees, local residents
and EPA officials to control emissions. These unwanted odors can cause health threats, consequently
incorporating new products which have lower emission levels as well as a cost effective remediation method to
remove emissions such as a carbon bed biofiltration system can eliminate the higher cost burden of thermal
oxidation while providing a method to reduce public concern and conform to permitting requirements.   

What does the carbon due?
So, what is a Granulated Activated Carbon Biofiltration System (GACBF)? “GACBF” is a term used to
describe a system of trapping the solvents by use of activated carbon filter and destruction by microorganisms.
This filter or “carbon” has a vast surface area with one gram equaling the size of a soccer field, so you can
imagine how large of surface area would be represented by hundreds of pounds. The carbon bed has the
ability to trap thousands of pounds of emissions or solvents. Currently these systems are in place; however
when these systems are filled the solvents the carbon reaches a saturation point and is unable to accept any
more solvents, these solvents or emissions will push through the carbon bed without entrapment.   

What is biofiltration?
Biofiltration is the naturally occurring process of treating air and water by bacteria and microbes. This filtration
occurs in naturally in our life’s daily these organisms are capable of digesting just about any organic substance
that either we manufacture or that occurs in nature. The by-products of this naturally occurring biological
activity is carbon dioxide and water.

Conventional biofilters have used these methods for many years; most have been in operation in Japan and
Europe. In the past these have been very large operating systems with single layer mulch or organic media to
act the filtration mechanism. Some as large as soccer fields, the size has limited its popularity in the U.S. and
most were found to be impractical for industrial units.

Newer more modern designed biofilters use a variety of products to increase their efficiency of treating VOCs
and HAPs and thus reduce their size from something like a soccer field to a dining room table. Emission laden
waste off-gases are required to between 40°F and 120°F to maintain proper metabolism by the micro
organisms. Second, the carbon that supports the entrapment is structured in a way to increase the effective
surface area and allow multiple layers. A concise way to put it is the system is an engineered bionetwork that
traps the emissions then delivers the emissions to the microbes where the organisms believe they are at a
luncheon that never ends with emissions and solvents becoming their main staple. Newer forms of
microorganisms produce no biomass and does not require cleaning or any waste treatment.

Thermal Oxidation v. Carbon Biofiltration Technology Costs
Often solvent processes have a high volume waste process stream with a lower levels of solvents. These
emissions can be extremely expensive to treat with thermal oxidation technologies because of the amount of
natural gas required to maintain combustion temperatures of typically 1500°F.

Some Thermal technologies also produce secondary contaminants like nitrogen oxides, as do the
thermal
regeneration systems for activated carbon. Biofilters make use of the biological energy of the microbes to
destroy the VOCs without creating secondary pollutants. The energy costs for a carbon biofiltration system are
one-tenth the energy costs of thermal oxidation technologies. Capital cost expenditures of a carbon biofilter are
typically two-thirds to three-fourths that of competing thermal oxidation technologies.

Carbon bed biofilters are living microbial systems, mai
ntenance of the system by the addition of micro
organisms is required ranging between one month to twelve months depending on the destruction efficiency
required for regulatory compliance. Systems can be designed to achieve 99% + destruction efficiency.

Often the regulatory approach has pushed toward Best Available Control Technology (BACT), which leans
towards requiring a higher level of treatment for the target pollutant with only narrow contemplation of the cost.
Carbon bed bio-filters (GACBF) are currently achieving consistent removal efficiencies greater than 99 percent.

Carbon Bed Biofiltration is an energy-efficient technology for VOC, HAPs and Odor control that can meet the
demand of these and many other situations. Regulatory agencies are more receptive to biofiltration, and are
beginning to recognize the benefits of pollution avoidance and energy savings.

Industrial Paint Booths
A 7000 scfm Carbon Bed Biofilter was placed on paint spraying operation in the U.S. which is a coater of metal
and components. Coatings with relatively high concentrations of VOCs are often necessary for this industry.
This biofilter system, pictured below is maintaining greater than 98% removal of VOCs.

Conclusion
Granulated Activated Carbon Biofiltration Systems is a cost-effective and viable technology for VOC, HAPs and
odor control that has significant promise for improved air quality for facilities involved in high emission levels
such as paint and coatings industry.
Granulated Carbon Bed Biofiltration systems provide effective destruction
of air pollutants with very low energy consumption with little secondary pollutant generation. Applications for this
technology are increasing through a wider range of industrial applications.
Call +1 (918) 708 - 1253
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