Modelling the growth of a methanotrophic biofilm: Estimation of parameters and variability

J.-P. Arcangeli, E. Arvin

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    This article discusses the growth of methanotrophic biofilms. Several independent biofilm growths scenarios involving different inocula were examined. Biofilm growth, substrate removal and product formation were monitored throughout the experiments. Based on the oxygen consumption it was concluded that heterotrophs and nitrifiers co-existed with methanotrophs in the biofilm. Heterotrophic biomass grew on soluble polymers formed by the hydrolysis of dead biomass entrapped in the biofilm. Nitrifier populations developed because of the presence of ammonia in the mineral medium. Based on these experimental results, the computer program AQUASIM was used to develop a biological model involving methanotrophs, heterotrophs and nitrifiers. The modelling of six independent growth experiments showed that stoichiometric and kinetic parameters were within the same order of magnitude. Parameter estimation yielded an average maximum growth rate for methanotrophs, mu(m), of 1.5 +/- 0.5 d(-1), at 20 degrees C, a decay rate, b(m), of 0.24 +/- 0.1 d(-1), a half saturation constant, K-S(CH4), of 0.06 +/- 0.05 mg CH4/L, and a yield coefficient, Y-CH4, of 0.57 +/- 0.04 g X/g CH4. In addition, a sensitivity analysis was performed on this model. It indicated that the most influential parameters were those related to the biofilm (i.e. density; solid-volume fraction; thickness). This suggests that in order to improve the model, further research regarding the biofilm structure and composition is needed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)177 - 191
    Publication statusPublished - 1999

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