The numerical simulation of mass transfer and conversion in spatially heterogeneous biofilms on the meso-scale requires an accurate description of the hydrodynamics in the biofilm systems and of spatial effects. This leads to systems of three-dimensional nonlinear partial differential equations that are numerically very expensive to solve and to data requirements that are not easy to meet. In this paper several modeling approaches to reduce the physical complexity and, hence, accelerate the computation are compared. They range from a mere reduction of dimensionality by lumping the problem along a secondary flow direction to global mass balances or empirical correlations, at the core of which a one-dimensional boundary value problem must be solved. It is found that even strongly simplified models can describe the qualitative behaviour of the model with regard to variations in the geometrical and hydrodynamic model parameters quite well. In order to obtain also quantitatively reliable results the hydrodynamics must be considered in an appropriate manner.

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