Biofilters, bioreactors used for pollution control, can effectively treat a variety of odorous and hazardous emissions, but uncertain medium longevities and associated costs limit biofilter adoption. To improve medium-life estimations for biofilter end-users, litter bags were used to compare decay rates of common biofilter medium types and test the effects of nitrogen (N) enrichment and livestock production emissions on medium decay in a full-scale biofilter over a 27-month period. Generally, “by-product” media (mulch, corn cobs) decayed faster than hardwood media, with decay of softwood media the slowest. Analysis showed nutrient content was the best predictor of early-stage decay, while carbon fractions and nutrient content best predicted medium longevity. N amendments and N-rich barn emissions were found to hasten medium decay. By identifying decay rates and rate predictors specific for biofilter media, we provide biofilter engineers and farmers with a quantitative way to improve medium selection based on the trade-offs between medium cost and replacement frequency.
- Decay rate
- Litter bag