An individual-based model, originally developed for a biofilm system, was adapted to simulate three-dimensional formation of activated sludge flocs. The model was extended to two different bacterial morphotypes (floc-forming and filamentous bacteria), allowing spatial development of the floc according to the bacterial morphology, diffusion, reaction, and growth processes. The model needed also extension with a process for attachment of individual cells. Despite being in an early stage of development, the model is already a tool that enables us to obtain useful information about the microfloc environment. The model indicates that filamentous bacterial morphology and substrate microgradients are important aspects in the formation of bacterial structures. In mass transport-limited regimes filamentous bacterial structures prevail, whereas in growth-limited regimes irregular shaped flocs with fingerlike structures are dominant. These modeling results suggest that activated sludge flocs and biofilms might be different manifestations of the same phenomena. The model results support the hypothesis that floc-macrogradients can be the most important parameter for development of bulking sludge. The model suggests that attachment has a very strong effect on floc structure, leading to enhancement of the effect of substrate microgradients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry