Characterization of absorbent polymers for the removal of volatile hydrophobic pollutants from air



BACKGROUND: An emerging innovation for the treatment of polluted air consists in using a liquid–solid biphasic system, in which the sequestering phase contains inert polymer beads. The different polymers tested here for this purpose were; Hytrel® G3548L, Hytrel® G4078W, styrene butadiene copolymer, 28% and 31%, silicone rubber, PEBAX® 2533, and rubber tires. The selection of the most effective polymer(s) first requires a determination of the uptake of the pollutants by the solid phase in terms of key polymer properties such as partition coefficient, diffusion coefficient and biodegradability.

RESULTS: A significant difference was found in the uptake levels of α-pinene from the gas phase for the different polymers tested. Based on partition coefficient measurements, relatively non-polar polymers such as Kraton® tend to uptake α-pinene better than polar ones, such as Hytrel®. A reduction in the partition coefficient of α-pinene into polymers in the presence of water has also been observed. It was also proven that the tested polymers are not biodegradable.

CONCLUSIONS: The uptake of α-pinene by the different polymers tested was determined and it was shown that such polymers could be used for air pollution control. Furthermore, their non-biodegradability justifies their use as absorbents. This paper provides a new opportunity to work with biofilters (BFs)/biotrickling filters (BTFs) using polymers as a sequestering phase. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry