Experimental investigation of the formaldehyde removal mechanisms in a dynamic botanical filtration system for indoor air purification

Zhiqiang Wang, Jingjing Pei, Jensen S. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Botanical filtration has been proved to be effective for indoor gas pollutant removal. To understand the roles of different transport, storage and removal mechanism by a dynamic botanical air filter, a series of experimental investigations were designed and conducted in this paper. Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) plants was selected for test, and its original soil or activated/pebbles root bed was used in different test cases. It was found that flowing air through the root bed with microbes dynamically was essential to obtain meaningful formaldehyde removal efficiency. For static potted plant as normally place in rooms, the clean air delivery rate (CADR), which is often used to quantify the air cleaning ability of portable air cleaners, was only ~5.1m3/h per m2 bed, while when dynamically with air flow through the bed, the CADR increased to ~233m3/h per m2 bed. The calculated CADR due to microbial activity is ~108m3/h per m2 bed. Moisture in the root bed also played an important role, both for maintaining a favorable living condition for microbes and for absorbing water-soluble compounds such as formaldehyde. The role of the plant was to introduce and maintain a favorable microbe community which effectively degraded the volatile organic compounds adsorbed or absorbed by the root bed. The presence of the plant increased the removal efficiency by a factor of two based on the results from the bench-scale root bed experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-243
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Sep 15 2014


  • Air cleaning
  • Formaldehyde
  • Microorganism
  • Plant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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