Combating odours

A technique has been developed in Australia to combat offending odours produced by many industries, including wastewater treatment plants.


Environmental Biotechnology CRC (EBCRC) researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney and Murdoch University in Perth developed the technique, which uses a novel way to harness bacteria to biodegrade odour-causing substances.


Dr David Garman, executive director of the EBCRC, said: ‘While bacteria can deal with a wide range of odours, their unreliability, poor viability and poor performance in normal biofilter systems mean that often operators prefer to use simpler chemical systems. Some of these systems are effective at masking the odours but do not remove or break them down.’


The new technique immobilises odours, which are volatilised chemical compounds at a very low concentration, onto adsorbing particles such as modified zeolites, where they are broken down using either enzymes or bacteria.


Garman added: ‘Our novel odour control process has the capacity to replace currently used biofilters, which although effective in removing many odours, deteriorate over time and eventually fail, and thus require overdesign and regular media replacement. Similarly, currently available chemical systems also require regular renewal or refills.’


The technology is being developed for municipal-scale composting facilities and sewage treatment plants.


The project has recently been boosted with additional funding from Water Corporation in Western Australia. Other EBCRC Odour Control Project participants include Southern Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC), Zeolite Australia and Odour Control Systems.