Bacterial degradation of styrene in waste gases using a peat filter

Mona Arnold (Corresponding Author), A. Reittu, Atte von Wright, P. Martikainen, Maija-Liisa Suihko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


A biofiltration process was developed for styrene-containing off-gases using peat as filter material. The average styrene reduction ratio after 190 days of operation was 70% (max. 98%) and the mean styrene elimination capacity was 12 g m−3 h−1 (max. 30 g m−3 h−1). Efficient styrene degradation required addition of nutrients to the peat, adjustment of the pH to a neutral level and efficient control of the humidity. Maintenance of the water balance was easier in a down-flow than in an up-flow process, the former consequently resulting in much better filtration efficiency. The optimum operation temperature was around 23 °C, but the styrene removal was still satisfactory at 12 °C. Seven different bacterial isolates belonging to the genera Tsukamurella, Pseudomonas, Sphingomonas, Xanthomonas and an unidentified genus in the γ group of the Proteobacteria isolated from the microflora of active peat filter material were capable of styrene degradation. The isolates differed in their capacity to decompose styrene to carbon dioxide and assimilate it to biomass. No toxic intermediate degradation products of styrene were detected in the filter outlet gas or in growing cultures of isolated bacteria. The use of these isolates in industrial biofilters is beneficial at low styrene concentrations and is safe from both the environmental and public health points of view.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738 - 744
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1997
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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