The transient-state, multiple-species biofilm model for biofiltration processes

Bruce E. Rittmann, Douglas Stilwell, Akiyoshi Ohashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


We describe the transient-state, multiple-species biofilm model (TSMSBM), which is a novel synthesis of key modeling features needed to describe multiple-species biofilms that experience time-varying conditions, particularly including periodic detachment by backwashing. The TSMSBM includes six features that are essential for describing multiple-species biofilms that undergo changes over time: (1) four biomass types: heterotrophs, ammonia oxidizers, nitrite oxidizers, and inert biomass; (2) seven chemical species: input biodegradable organic material (BOM), NH4+-N, NO2--N, NO3--N, utilization-associated products, biomass-associated products, and dissolved oxygen; (3) eight reactions that describe the rates of consumption or production of the different species, as well as the stoichiometric linkages among the rates; (4) reaction with diffusion of all the soluble species in the biofilm; (5) growth, decay, detachment, and flux of each biomass type by location in the biofilm; and (6) constant or periodic detachment of biofilm, both of which allow for protection of biomass deep inside the biofilm. The last two features of the TSMSBM provide novel additions to biofilm modeling, and the synthesis of all features is a unique advancement. A series of examples illustrates insights that the TSMSBM can provide about the transient development of multiple-species biofilms; the roles of soluble microbial products and detachment in controlling the distribution of biomass types and process performance; and how backwashing affects the biofilm in drinking-water biofiltration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2342-2356
Number of pages15
JournalWater Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Backwashing
  • Biofilm
  • Biofiltration
  • Detachment
  • Multiple species
  • Transient-state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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