A modeling study of anaerobic biofilm systems: II. Reactor modeling

Joseph R.V. Flora, Makram T. Suidan, Pratim Biswas, Gregory D. Sayles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A rigorous steady‐state model of anaerobic biofilm reactors taking into account acid–base and gas–phase equilibria in the reactor in conjunction with detailed chemical equilibria and mass transfer in acetate‐utilizing methanogenic biofilms is presented. The performances of ideal completely stirred tank reactors (CSTRs) and plug‐flow reactors, as well as reactors with nonideal hydraulic conditions, are simulated. Decreasing the surface loading rate increases the acetate removal efficiency, while decreasing the influent pH and increasing the buffering capacity improves the removal efficiency only if the bulk pH of the reactor shifts toward more optimal values between 6.8 to 7.0. The reactor can have negative or positive removal efficiencies depending on the start‐up conditions. The respiration coefficient plays a critical role in determining the minimum influent pH required for reactor recovery after failure. Having multiple CSTRs‐in‐series generally increases the overall removal efficiency for the influent conditions investigated. Monitoring of the influent feed quality is critical for plug‐flow reactors, becasue failure of the initial sections of the reactor may cause a cascading effect that may lead to a rapid reactor failure. © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 5 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • anaerobic biofilm
  • biofilm modeling
  • CSTR
  • pH
  • plug‐flow reactors
  • reactors, nonide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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