Efficient control of odors and VOC emissions via activated carbon technology

Water Environ Res. 2014 Jul;86(7):594-605. doi: 10.2175/106143014x13975035525267.


This research study was undertaken to enhance the efficiency and economy of carbon scrubbers in controlling odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at the wastewater collection and treatment facilities of the Bureau of Sanitation, City of Los Angeles. The butane activity and hydrogen sulfide breakthrough capacity of activated carbon were assessed. Air streams were measured for odorous gases and VOCs and removal efficiency (RE) determined. Carbon towers showed average to excellent removal of odorous compounds, VOCs, and siloxanes; whereas, wet scrubbers demonstrated good removal of odorous compounds but low to negative removal of VOCs. It was observed that the relative humidity and empty bed contact time are one of the most important operating parameters of carbon towers impacting the pollutant RE. Regular monitoring of activated carbon and VOCs has resulted in useful information on carbon change-out frequency, packing recommendations, and means to improve performance of carbon towers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / chemistry
  • Carbon / chemistry*
  • Environment
  • Filtration / instrumentation*
  • Filtration / methods
  • Hydrogen Sulfide
  • Odorants / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / chemistry*
  • Waste Disposal Facilities
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Water Purification


  • Air Pollutants
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Carbon
  • Hydrogen Sulfide