Environmental Engineering Program


First Advisor

Dr. Bruce Dvorak

Second Advisor

Dr. Ashraf Aly Hassan

Date of this Version

Summer 7-22-2022


Bunker, B. (2022). Construction and operation of a pilot-scale odor control device [Master's thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln]. Civil and Environmental Engineering Theses, Dissertations, and Student Research.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Environmental Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professors Bruce Dvorak and Ashraf Aly Hassan. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Brendan Chace Bunker


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a naturally occurring by-product of anaerobic digestion and causes an odor that can be a nuisance and a public health risk at higher concentrations. This compound can be treated through various means, but one of particular interest is a biotrickling filter (BTF). Such devices have excellent H2S treatment efficiencies, but start-up costs can be steep. The primary goal of this study is to explain the design and operation of a low-cost odor control device for improving environmental air quality in Nebraska using a BTF. This device has the potential for application as a preliminary step in treating impurities in methane-rich gas and for treating other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with the goal of reducing treatment costs and overall footprint. Preliminary experiments were completed to investigate cyclic adsorption and thermal regeneration of H2S from granular activated carbon (GAC), a foundational component of the device. Results from these experiments demonstrated the effectiveness of this concept; virgin samples carbon were regenerated at approximately 70% efficiency, with subsequent cycles showing roughly 50% efficiency. The pilot device was installed at the Loup Central Landfill and operated for three months. Gas emitted from the leachate cleanout system was sampled for H2S, but none was detected despite positive results from samples taken during the previous year. The gas was supplemented with manufactured H2S during experimentation. Data from the landfill site provided evidence that gas containing H2S was successfully captured and concentrated via GAC columns. The activated carbon captured incoming H2S at an efficiency of roughly 75% (± 15%) and regenerated at an overall efficiency of 76% (± 26%), noting that multiple cycles produced regeneration above 100%. Results from the BTF initially showed signs of degradation, and prolonged operation showed that it did not efficiently treat H2S. Despite limited biological treatment, the pilot odor control device produced successful results in other facets. Some recommended changes to the pilot device and its operation appear following an explanation of the experimental results.

Advisors: Bruce I. Dvorak and Ashraf Aly Hassan