The thickness of the dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration boundary layer and the external mass transfer in a biofilm system were investigated using a microelectrode technique. Theoretical analysis was conducted to elucidate the mechanisms of the technique and to interpret the experimental measurements. The measured thicknesses of dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration boundary layers under different conditions demonstrated directly the effect of several factors on external mass transfer resistance. The experimental results indicated that (a) increasing substrate loading rate, (b) increasing fluid streamwise velocity and (c) increasing the roughness of the biofilm surface would decrease the external mass transfer resistance. The measured thickness of the DO concentration boundary layer was not in full agreement with theoretical correlations because the nonuniform biofilm created velocity and concentration fluctuations which resulted in the compression of concentration boundary layers. The microelectrode technique is a useful tool to study the external mass transfer resistance.

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