Mathematical modelling of biofilms and biofilm reactors for engineering design

J. P. Boltz, E. Morgenroth, D. Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Mathematical models are critical to modern environmental biotechnology-both in research and in the engineering practice. Wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) simulators are used by consulting engineers and WWTP operators when planning, designing, optimizing, and evaluating the unit processes that comprise municipal and industrial WWTPs. Many WWTP simulators have been expanded to include a submerged completely-mixed biofilm reactor module that is based on the mathematical description of a one-dimensional biofilm. Leading consultants, equipment manufacturers, and WWTP modelling software developers have made meaningful contributions to advancing the use of biofilm models in engineering practice, but the bulk of the engineering community either does not use the now readily available biofilm reactor modules or utilizes them as 'black-box' design tools. The latter approach results in the mathematical biofilm models being no more useful than the empirical design criteria and formulations that have been historically applied to biofilm reactor design. The present work provides a consensus report on the state-of-the art, areas of uncertainty, and future needs for advancing the use of biofilm models in engineering design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1821-1836
Number of pages16
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofilm
  • Biofilm reactor
  • Design
  • Model
  • Simulation
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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