The influences of reactor conditions (substrate loading rate and shear) and microbial characteristics (yield and growth rate) on the structure of biofilms is discussed. Based on research on the formation of biofilms in Biofilm Airlift Suspension (BAS) reactors a hypothesis is postulated that the ratio between biofilm surface loading and shear rate determines the biofilm structure. When shear forces are relatively high only a patchy biofilm will develop, whereas at low shear rates the biofilm becomes highly heterogeneous with many pores and protuberances. In case of a right balance smooth and stable biofilms can be obtained. A hypothesis for the evolution of biofilm structures as a function of process conditions is formulated.

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