Gaseous oxygen uptake in porous media at different moisture contents and airflow velocities

Prabhakar Sharma*, Tjalfe G. Poulsen, Prasad N.V. Kalluri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The presence and distribution of water in the pore space is a critical factor for flow and transport of gases through unsaturated porous media. The water content also affects the biological activity necessary for treatment of polluted gas streams in biofilters. In this research, microbial activity and quantity of inactive volume in a porous medium as a function of moisture content and gas flow rate were investigated. Yard waste compost was used as a test medium, and oxygen uptake rate measurements were used to quantify microbial activity and effective active compost volume using batch and column flow-through systems. Compost water contents were varied from air-dry to field capacity and gas flows ranged from 0.2 to 2 L · min-1. The results showed that overall microbial activity and the relative fraction of active compost medium volume increased with airflow velocity for all levels of water content up to a certain flow rate above which the oxygen uptake rate assumed a constant value independent of gas flow. The actual value of the maximum oxygen uptake rate was controlled by the water content. The oxygen uptake rate also increased with increasing water content and reached a maximum between 42 and 48% volumetric water content, above which it decreased, again likely because of formation of inactive zones in the compost medium. Overall, maximum possible oxygen uptake rate as a function of gas flow rate across all water contents and gas flows could be approximated by a linear expression. The relative fraction of active volume also increased with gas flow rate and reached approximately 80% for the highest gas flows used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-682
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

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