Biofilms in water and wastewater treatment

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Fundamental principles describing biofilms exist as a result of focused research. The use of reactors for the treatment of municipal wastewater is a common application of biofilms. Applied research exists that provides a basis for the mechanistic understanding of biofilm reactors. The empirical information derived from such applied research has been used to develop design criteria for biofilm reactors and remains the basis for biofilm reactor design despite the emergence of mathematical models as reliable tools for research and practice. Unfortunately, little information exists to bridge the gap between our current understanding of biofilm fundamentals and reactor-scale empirical information. Therefore, there is a clear dichotomy in literature: micro- (biofilm) and macro- (reactor) scales. This chapter highlights the division. Part I is dedicated to basic research and communicating the state of the art with respect to understanding biofilms. Part II is practice-oriented and describes the use of biofilms for the sanitation of municipal wastewater. A basis for addressing this disconnection is presented by (1) describing the fundamental biofilm principles that can be uniformly applied to biofilms in several disciplines extending from medicine to environmental biotechnology and (2) describing a fundamentals-based approach in order to understand and apply biofilms in reactors. The use of mathematical biofilm models is common in both research and practice, but only a cursory presentation of their mathematical description is presented here. Finally, Part III gives examples of undesirable biofilms in water and wastewater industries and describes the attempts to mitigate their effects. Metabolic reactions mediated by microorganisms residing in biofilms promote the biodeterioration of materials, including metals, concrete, and plastics. It is estimated that microbially influenced corrosion (MIC) alone costs the US economy billions of dollars every year.




Lewandowski Z and Boltz JP, "Biofilms in water and wastewater treatment," In: Peter Wilderer (ed.) Treatise on Water Science, Oxford: Academic Press 2011 4:529–570
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