A mathematical model for the counter-diffusional membrane-attached methanotrophic biofilm reactor was developed. The model included competitive inhibition between trichloroethylene (TCE) and methane, production of inactive cells by TCE byproduct toxicity, and biomass detachment as a function of inactive cell concentration. Simulation results indicated that the optimum oxygen to methane ratio was dependent on the biofilm and the membrane thickness. Furthermore, the model confirmed experimental observations that the efficiency of the process is not limited by competitive inhibition or substrates mass transfer, but by the back-diffusion of TCE through the membrane and the consequent TCE accumulation in the gas phase.

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