Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 30, pp 30021–30030 | Cite as

Performance and biofilm characteristics of biotrickling filters for ethylbenzene removal in the presence of saponins

  • Hui Qian
  • Yan Cheng
  • Chunping YangEmail author
  • Shaohua Wu
  • Guangming Zeng
  • Jinying XiEmail author
Research Article


Saponins were applied to enhance ethylbenzene removal in biotrickling filters (BTFs), and comparison experiments were carried out to evaluate the effects of saponins on ethylbenzene removal and biofilm characteristics at various saponin concentrations. Results showed that the optimum concentration of saponins was 40 mg/L and a maximum removal efficiency (RE) of ethylbenzene reached 84.3%. When the inlet ethylbenzene concentration increased, ranging from 750 to 2300 mg/m3, the RE decreased from 92.1 to 60.8% and from 69.4 to 44.2% for BTF1 and BTF2 in which saponin was and was not added, respectively. The corresponding RE declined from 91.1 to 40.8% and from 71.5 to 35.8% with a decreased empty bed residence time ranging from 45 to 7.5 s. Additionally, significant differences existed between both BTFs not only in the contents of polysaccharide and proteins but also in the surface charge of biofilms, and the ratio of protein to polysaccharide increased with the increase of saponin concentration, which indicated the presumable effect of saponins on liquid-biofilm transfer rates of ethylbenzene. Mechanisms for the enhanced removal of hydrophobic volatile organic compounds at the presence of surfactants were also discussed.


Biofiltration Saponin Ethylbenzene VOC Biofilm 


Funding information

This study received financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.: 51478172, 51278464, and 51521006), the International S&T Cooperation Program of China (Contract No.: 2015DFG92750), the Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province of China (Grant No.: LY17E080002), the Natural Science Foundation of Hunan Province of China (Grant No.: 2017JJ2029), and the Department of Science and Technology of Changsha City of China (Contract No.: kh1601187).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Hunan University and Key Laboratory of Environmental Biology and Pollution Control (Hunan University)Ministry of EducationChangshaChina
  2. 2.Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Solid Waste Treatment and Recycling, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringZhejiang Gongshang UniversityHangzhouChina
  3. 3.School of EnvironmentTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina

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