Aerated biofilters with multiple-level air injection configurations to enhance biological treatment of methane emissions.
The atmospheric concentration of methane, a greenhouse gas, has more than doubled during the past 200 years. Consequently, identifying the factors influencing the flux of methane into the atmosphere is becoming increasingly important. Methanotrophs, microaerophilic organisms widespread in aerobic soils and sediments, oxidize methane to derive energy and carbon for biomass. In so doing, they play an important role in mitigating the flux of methane into the atmosphere. Several physico-chemical factors influence rates of methane oxidation in soil, including soil diffusivity; water potential; and levels of oxygen, methane, ammonium, nitrate, nitrite, and copper. Most of these factors exert their influence through interactions with methane monooxygenase (MMO), the enzyme that catalyzes the reaction converting methane to methanol, the first step in methane oxidation. Although biological factors such as competition and predation undoubtedly play a role in regulating the methanotroph population in soils, and thereby limit the amount of methane consumed by methanotrophs, the significance of these factors is unknown. Obtaining a better understanding of the ecology of methanotrophs will help elucidate the mechanisms that regulate soil methane oxidation.