Browse Publications Technical Papers 2006-01-2150

Paecilomyces lilacinus and Fusarium verticillioides Remove t-Butanol from Contaminated Air 2006-01-2150

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are important indoor air pollutants, particularly in spaces lacking adequate ventilation and containing off gassing materials. The problem is particularly acute in closed environments, such as spacecraft. The best solution to controlling VOC accumulation in closed environments is eliminating the offending chemicals from the spacecraft design. However, when this is not possible, removal of VOCs from spacecraft air is necessary.
Two species of fungi, Paecilomyces lilacinus and Fusarium verticillioides, were tested for the ability to remove tert-butanol from air. The fungi were grown on PCA+C agar and placed into jars with high atmospheric concentrations of t-butanol. The concentration of t-butanol was monitored in the containers for one week. The t-butanol consumption rates were estimated after adjusting for leakage. Leak rates ranged from 0.0003 to 0.0027 h-1.
Exponential decay of t-butanol from the chambers was observed with both species, with P. lilacinus being more than 7.5 times as effective as F. verticillioides (mean decay constants of -0.0060 vs. -0.0008 respectively).
Both the P. lilacinus and F. verticillioides decay constants differed between the low (80 ppm) and high (185 ppm) starting concentration, with the constant being about 1/3 higher at the lower concentration for P. lilacinus and about 9 times higher at the higher concentration for F. verticillioides. P. lilacinus cultures (20 cm2) would be able to remove about 5 nmol L-1 hr-1 at an initial concentration of 80 ppm.
The data demonstrate that fungal populations have the potential to be developed as biofilters for atmospheric regeneration in closed environments. Additional testing with P. lilacinus and F. verticillioides is required to establish effective ranges and rates of removal.


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