A mathematical model for a granular biofilm reactor for leachate treatment was validated by long-term measured data to investigate the mechanisms and drivers influencing biological nitrogen removal and microbial consortia dynamics. The proposed model, based on Activated Sludge Model (ASM1), included anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox), nitrifying and heterotrophic denitrifying bacteria which can attach and grow on granular activated carbon (GAC) particles. Two kinetic descriptions for the model were proposed: with and without soluble microbial products (SMP) and extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). The model accuracy was checked using recorded total inorganic nitrogen concentrations in the effluent and estimated relative abundance of active bacteria using quantitative fluorescence in-situ hybridization (qFISH). Results suggested that the model with EPS kinetics fits better for the relative abundance of anammox bacteria and nitrifying bacteria compared to the model without EPS. The model with EPS and SMP confirms that the growth and existence of heterotrophs in anammox biofilm systems slightly increased due to including the kinetics of SMP production in the model. During the one-year simulation period, the fractions of autotrophs and EPS in the biomass were almost stable but the fraction of heterotrophs decreased which is correlated with the reduction in nitrogen surface loading on the biofilm.

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