August 31, 2009

New technology cuts some industrial odors

A North Carolina State University scientist says he's created a technology to eliminate foul odors and air pollutants emitted by chicken rendering facilities.

Assistant Professor Praveen Kolar said his inexpensive treatment significantly mitigates odors from poultry rendering operations. Such emissions are not currently regulated by the government, but the smell can be extremely disruptive to a facility's community, Kolar said.

Kolar, working with University of Georgia Associate Professor James Kastner, designed a filtration system that takes advantage of catalytic oxidation to remove odor-causing pollutants. Specifically, the researchers said their process, which uses activated carbon and a nanoscale file made of cobalt or nickel oxides, takes place at room temperature, so there are no energy costs, and results in only two byproducts: carbon dioxide and pure water.

We used activated carbon because its porous structure gives it an extremely large surface area, meaning that there is more area that can be exposed to the odorous agents, Kolar said. The cobalt and nickel oxide nanofilms make excellent catalysts, Kolar added, because they increase the rate of the chemical reaction between the odor-causing compounds and the ozone, making the process more efficient. They are also metals that are both readily available and relatively inexpensive.

The research appears in the August issue of Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.