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    Biofilm Development in a Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor: Effect of Flow Velocity on Performance
    The effect of liquid flow velocity on biofilm development in a membrane-aerated biofilm reactor was investigated both by mathematical modeling and by experiment, using Vibrio natriegens as a test organism and acetate as carbon substrate. It was shown that velocity influenced mass transfer in the diffusion boundary layer, the biomass detachment rate from the biofilm, and the maximum biofilm thickness attained. Values of the overall mass transfer coefficient of a tracer through the diffusion boundary layer, the biofilm, and the membrane were shown to be identical during different experiments at the maximum biofilm thickness. Comparison of the results with published values of this parameter in membrane attached biofilms showed a similar trend. Therefore, it was postulated that this result might indicate the mechanism that determines the maximum biofilm thickness in membrane attached biofilms. In a series of experiments, where conditions were set so that the active layer of the membrane attached biofilm was located close to the membrane biofilm interface, it was shown that the most critical effect on process performance was the effect of velocity on biofilm structure. Biofilm thickness and effective diffusivity influenced reaction and diffusion in a complex manner such that the yield of biomass on acetate was highly variable. Consideration of endogenous respiration in the mathematical model was validated by direct experimental measurements of yield coefficients. Good agreement between experimental measurements of acetate and oxygen uptake rates and their prediction by the mathematical model was achieved.
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