Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering

, Volume 41, Issue 11, pp 1573–1587 | Cite as

Modeling and dynamic simulation of a two-stage pre-denitrification MBBR system under increasing organic loading rates

  • Hudson B. Carminati
  • Paula S. Lima
  • Argimiro R. Secchi
  • João P. BassinEmail author
Research Paper


Biofilm-based wastewater treatment systems have become attractive due to their numerous advantages when compared to other suspended growth processes. However, the mathematical modeling of these reactors is relatively complex, since it has to consider a wide range of phenomena to accurately describe the process behavior. This work deals with the modeling of a two-stage MBBR system run in pre-denitrification mode for the removal of organic matter and nitrogen from wastewater. The model development took into account diffusive phenomena and kinetics in a homogeneous biofilm composed of different bacterial functional groups (namely heterotrophs and nitrifiers). The thickness of the biofilm was treated as a variable, given that detachment of adhered biomass took place. The suspended biomass fraction was also considered to remove the pollutants by means of Monod-type kinetics associated with the activated sludge model. The dynamic behavior of the components involved in the system and their spatial distribution in the biofilm obtained from simulated data showed good agreement with those reported in the literature, demonstrating the reproducibility of the model and encouraging future applications in full-scale MBBR plants.


Moving-bed biofilm reactor Biofilm Nitrogen removal Dynamic simulation 


List of symbols


Biofilm surface area (L2)


Decay rate (T−1)


Soluble substrate concentration (M L−3)


Saturating concentration of oxygen in the liquid phase (M L−3)


Diffusion coefficient (L2 T−1)


Biomass fraction in the biofilm


Fraction of the inert biomass in the inactive portion of the biofilm


N/COD mass ratio


External mass transfer coefficient (L2 T−1)


Half-saturation coefficient (M L−3)


Oxygen mass transfer coefficient (T−1)


Biofilm thickness (L)


Mass of biomass (M)


Molecular weight (M N−1)


Pressure (M L−1 T−2)


Flowrate (L3 T−1)


Conversion rate (M L−3 T−1)


Universal constant of gases (M L2 T−2 Θ−1 N−1)


Time (T)


Temperature (θ)


Reactor volume (L3)


Biomass concentration (M L−3)


Molar fraction


Yield coefficient


Spatial variable in the biofilm (L)


Boundary layer thickness (L)


Shear loss rate (T−1)


Maximum specific rate (T−1)


Stoichiometric coefficient


Biofilm mean density (M L−3)


Process rate (M L−3)



Anoxic reactor


Aerobic reactor


Anoxic process


Anaerobic process


Hydrolysis process


Aerobic process


Autotrophic biomass


Heterotrophic biomass


Inert biomass




Nitrate nitrogen




Readily or slowly biodegradable substrate


Feed air


Influent stream


Equilibrium condition


Component (soluble or biomass)





Biofilm phase


Gas phase


Interface biofilm-bulk


Bulk phase


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hudson B. Carminati
    • 1
  • Paula S. Lima
    • 1
  • Argimiro R. Secchi
    • 1
  • João P. Bassin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Chemical Engineering Program, COPPEUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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