Bacteria eliminate formaldehyde from waste air

Press release / September 15, 2000

Scientists of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart/Germany now succeeded in developing a high efficient, low cost technology for the bio-treatment of formaldehyde containing waste air.

Bio-tricking-filter
“Bio-tricking-filter“ for the bio-treatment of formaldehyde containing waste air.

It is used for the crease-resist finishing of fabrics as well as for the coating of chipboards or the production of synthetic resins: We are talking about formal-dehyde – no doubt: one of the most important basic chemicalsFo. But as useful as it may be on the one hand, makes it more harmful on the other. Formaldehyde is very volatile and so it is released into the waste air of many industrial production processes. It is not only of serious environmental concern, it is also dangerous for those who incorporate it by respiration. Formaldehyde is known as harmful and mutagenic and is suspected to be carcinogenic. Scientists of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart/Germany now succeeded in developing a high efficient, low cost technology for the bio-treatment of formaldehyde containing waste air.

Bio-treatment of waste air is a technique for the elimination of hazardous substances by the metabolic activity of micro-organisms. The new technology bases on the bacterial strain Pseudomonas putida J3 that was isolated by the scientists of the Fraunhofer IGB. The strain is high tolerant of formaldehyde and degrades formaldehyde highly efficient. For the bio-treatment of waste air the strain is immobilized in a so called ˝bio-trickling-filter˝. A biologically inert textile is used as a support for the bacterial growth. The textile is rinsed continuously to provide necessary supplements to the bacteria. The waste air is fed into the bottom of the filter. The formaldehyde is continuously transported by diffusion from the air into the liquid and to the bacteria.

The Fraunhofer scientist have proved that the technology shows excellent degradation rates. For example a waste air stream with a formaldehyde concentration of over 1000 ppm was purified to a resulting concentration of below 10 ppm. Now they plan to transfer this high efficient and economic technology into the industrial scale as soon as possible.