A general description of detachment for multidimensional modelling of biofilms

Joao De Bivar Xavier, Cristian Picioreanu, Mark C.M. Van Loosdrecht

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130 Scopus citations


A general method for describing biomass detachment in multidimensional biofilm modelling is introduced. Biomass losses from processes acting on the entire surface of the biofilm, such as erosion, are modelled using a continuous detachment speed function Fdet. Discrete detachment events, i.e. sloughing, are implicitly derived from simulations. The method is flexible to allow Fdet to take several forms, including expressions dependent on any state variables such as the local biofilm density. This methodology for biomass detachment was integrated with multidimensional (2D and 3D) particle-based multispecies biofilm models by using a novel application of the level set method. Application of the method is illustrated by trends in the dynamics of biofilms structure and activity derived from simulations performed on a simple model considering uniform biomass (case study I) and a model discriminating biomass composition in heterotrophic active mass, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and inert mass (case study II). Results from case study I demonstrate the effect of applied detachment forces as a fundamental factor influencing steady-state biofilm activity and structure. Trends from experimental observations reported in literature were correctly described. For example, simulation results indicated that biomass sloughing is reduced when erosion forces are increased. Case study II illustrates the application of the detachment methodology to systems with non-uniform biomass composition. Simulations carried out at different bulk concentrations of substrate show changes in biofilm structure (in terms of shape, density and spatial distribution of biomass components) and activity (in terms of oxygen and substrate consumption) as a consequence of either oxygen-limited or substrate-limited growth. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-669
Number of pages19
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 20 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2022-09-13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology


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