Design and control of air scrubbers for animal housing systems



Since 2004, newly built pig and poultry housing facilities in Belgium are legally required to be emission-low with respect to ammonia. This can be achieved by applying air scrubbers that remove ammonia from the outgoing air through absorption in water, followed by chemical and/or biological conversions. Despite the widespread use of chemical, biological and combined air scrubbing systems, there is still insufficient knowledge of process engineering aspects such as removal efficiency, energy consumption, water consumption, and their relationship with process design and process control. Besides, air scrubbers are primarily developed for ammonia reduction, while their performance in terms of odor reduction remains suboptimal. The livestock sector is also responsible for the emission of the greenhouse gases nitrous oxide and methane. Up till now, little is known about the removal of these gases in air scrubbers. Moreover, the formation of nitrous oxide in (biological) air scrubbing systems cannot be excluded.

Research objectives

Optimization of air scrubbers for pig housing facilities in view of minimal
ammonia (NH3), odour (H2S) and greenhouse gas (N2O and CH4) emissions :

  • Focus on process engineering aspects, i.e. process design and control
  • Investigate relationships between various types of emissions in this respect


  • Construction, calibration and validation of a mechanistic model for chemical and biological air scrubbers
  • Simulation study in view of process optimization
  • Full-scale monitoring campaigns


waste gas treatment; air scrubbers, ammonia removal; greenhouse gases (N2O)

    Project administration

    Researcher: Caroline Van der Heyden

    Funding: PhD fellowship of Flanders agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT)

    Project duration: 01.09.2012 - 31.08.2016