A transient biological fouling model for constant flux microfiltration Academic Article uri icon


  • Microfiltration is a widely used engineering technology for fresh water production and water treatment. The major concern in many applications is the formation of a biological fouling layer leading to increased hydraulic resistance and flux decline during membrane operations. The growth of bacteria constituting such a biological layer implicates the formation of a multispecies biofilm and the consequent increase of operational costs for reactor management and cleaning procedures. To predict the biofouling evolution, a mono-dimensional continuous free boundary model describing biofilm dynamics and EPS production in different operational phases of microfiltration systems has been well studied. The biofouling growth is governed by a system of hyperbolic PDEs. Substrate dynamics are modeled through parabolic equations accounting for diffusive and advective fluxes generated during the filtration process. The free boundary evolution depends on both microbial growth and detachment processes. What is not addressed is the interplay between biofilm dynamics, filtration, and water recovery. In this study, filtration and biofilm growth modeling principles have been coupled for the definition of an original mathematical model able to reproduce biofouling evolution in membrane systems. The model has been solved numerically to simulate biologically relevant conditions, and to investigate the hydraulic behavior of the membrane. It has been calibrated and validated using lab-scale data. Numerical results accurately predicted the pressure drop occurring in the microfiltration system. A calibrated model can give information for optimization protocols as well as fouling prevention strategies.

published proceedings

  • Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering

author list (cited authors)

  • Luongo, V., Mattei, M. R., Frunzo, L., D'Acunto, B., Gupta, K., Chellam, S., & Cogan, N.

complete list of authors

  • Luongo, Vincenzo||Mattei, Maria Rosaria||Frunzo, Luigi||D'Acunto, Berardino||Gupta, Kunal||Chellam, Shankararaman||Cogan, Nick

publication date

  • January 2022