A biofilm system operated for enhanced biological phosphorus removal is evaluated using a mathematical model. The influence of the influent COD concentration and the biofilm thickness are investigated. In an activated sludge system increasing the influent COD will result in a decrease of the effluent phosphorus concentration. However, in a biofilm system above a certain influent COD concentration not all COD supplied in the influent can be taken up during the anaerobic period. Other heterotrophic bacteria will then dominate the biofilm resulting in an increase of the effluent phosphorus concentration. A larger biofilm thickness will result in an increase of the total mass of polyphosphate-accumulating organisms in the system. However, it is shown that a larger biofilm thickness results in higher effluent phosphorus concentrations. The mathematical model presented is based on the IAWQ Model No. 2 modified for the biofilm system. Mass transport in the biofilm is modeled one-dimensionally. Removal of biomass through backwashing and, thus, removal of phosphorus, is included in the mathematical model. Simulations were used to explain experimental observations.

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