Onsite Insight – Biofiltration – The Ambio Way

For more than 25 years, Biofiltration has been a part of my life. I first learned what a Biofilter is and how it works, in 1997, just after receiving my undergrad degree. I did both my Master thesis and PhD thesis on the biofiltration process for sewage air treatments. I design, build and maintain Ambio-biofilters for a wide range of air pollution control applications, and offer consulting services in the field. I have worked in a variety of applications in North America including wastewater treatment plants, food processing plants, organics processing facilities, and composting operations for odour control.

The simplicity of the underlying principles was taken to mean that anybody could design and build biofilters. The result was that most of these home-made installations did not work well or at all, giving the technology a poor reputation and making it difficult for serious players in the field to sell the technology and their expertise. We believe that biofilters have three major advantages over competing odour control technologies:

  • The underlying principles are known and straightforward;
  • Capital and operating costs are always lower than competing technologies;
  • A properly designed and commissioned biofilter is relatively easy to operate and maintain, with almost no moving parts, and manageable monitoring.

We have bucked the recent trend to so-called structured or engineered filter material. Although offering supposedly longer filter life, these products are much more expensive, often more than 10 times the cost of Ambio filter material, require more maintenance and nutrient monitoring, and generally take away from the simplicity and low-cost nature of biofilter design and operation. The material we use is, in fact, structured and engineered in the literal sense, although we always maintain a significant organic component in all applications, as this material has proven itself over the years to simply be the best filter material. We also tailor the filter material to the application and air stream.

Our systems are designed to be simple and virtually maintenance free, apart from greasing the fan bearings and changing the filter material every 5 years or so. We guarantee a filter life of 4 or 5 years, but depending on the application, it may be much longer. And this is not based on speculation or extrapolation, but on actual operating experience of over 30 years.

There are virtually no odours originating from the wastewater treatment environment that cannot be handled by a properly designed biofilter. Ambio systems tend to be simple, lower cost per cfm of air, and with fewer maintenance requirements than any of our competitors.

By B. Shan Shanchayan, Ph.D, P. Eng.