Biofilter media characterization using water sorption isotherms

G. D.N. Maia, G. B. Day V, R. S. Gates, J. L. Taraba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Compost material has been used extensively as a gas-phase biofilter media for contaminant gas treatment in recent years. One of the biggest challenges in the use of this type of material is adequate control of compost moisture content and understanding its effect on the biofiltration process. The present work provides a methodology for characterization of biofilter media under low moisture conditions. Results indicated that low levels of equilibrium moisture content (EMC) were obtained for high levels of equilibrium relative humidity (ERH), i.e., 99% ERH produced EMC of approximately 20% (dry basis) at 25°C. Most bacteria struggle to survive in environments with ERH levels lower than 95%. Compost material from the same source was sieved into four compost particle size (PS) ranges to evaluate its water sorption behavior: 4.76 mm > PS 1 > 3.36 mm > PS 2 > 2.38 mm > PS 3 > 2.00 mm > PS 4 > 1.68 mm. Observed data were tested against isotherm models for their goodness-of-fit. Seven isotherm models were compared: (1) Langmuir; (2) Freundlich; (3) Sips; (4) Brunauer, Emmett, and Teller (BET); (5) BET for n-layers; (6) Guggenheim, Anderson, de Boer (GAB); and (7) Henderson. In comparison with the other models, the Henderson model provided the best fit, as determined by the best combination of regression coefficient standard errors (Δ) and coefficients of determination (r 2) for all four particle size ranges tested (95% confidence interval, C.I., and prediction interval, P.I.). The Henderson model was then used to test for significant differences in isotherms by particle size ranges. The four tested particle size ranges were not significantly different from each other (p < 0.05), indicating similar water sorption behavior. Data from all four particle size ranges were pooled and regressed, and the minimum required moisture to maintain ERH at or above 95% was 16.41% ±2.68% (dry basis).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1445-1451
Number of pages7
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Biofilter
  • Compost biofilter
  • Henderson isotherm
  • Isotherm
  • Moisture control
  • Particle size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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