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Coupled Biofilter – Heat Exchanger Prototype for a Broiler House

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 27(6): 1039-1048. (doi: 10.13031/2013.40617) @2011
Authors:   S. B. Shah, D. J. Workman, J. Yates, T. J. Basden, C. T. Merriner, J. deGraft-Hanson
Keywords:   Ammonia, Empty bed residence time, Elimination capacity, Removal efficiency, Heat exchanger, Compost, Heat gain, Overall heat transfer coefficient

Biofiltration is effective in reducing air emissions from livestock barns but it increases the production cost. Coupling a biofilter with a heat exchanger may allow waste heat recovery to temper the fresh air going back into the livestock barn when supplemental heating is required. A proof-of-concept coupled biofilter - heat exchanger was evaluated for its ability to reduce ammonia emissions and recover heat in a 5,000-bird broiler house in Wardensville, West Virginia. The heat exchanger plenum was stacked on top of the biofilter with a corrugated aluminum sheet serving as the heat transfer surface. The biofilter was effective in treating very high inlet ammonia concentrations (>96 ppm) with removal efficiencies >79% for empty bed residence times ranging from 4.3 to 29.1 s. Accumulation of sulfur in the medium showed that the biofilter may have been effective in trapping some sulfurous gases emitted from the broiler house. Based on 13.5 h of monitoring, the heat exchanger had heat recoveries of 2.3 to 8.3 kW and overall heat transfer coefficients of 7.37 to 35.30 W m-2 K-1. The heat exchanger's performance was comparable to two commercially-available heat exchangers evaluated in published studies in livestock barns. The biofilter-heat exchanger system can improve air quality and reduce energy use in livestock production where supplemental heating is required but additional design improvements and testing are required for commercial application.

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