Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Engineering and Applied Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

La Motta, Enrique

Second Advisor

Faschan, Adam

Third Advisor

Kura, Bhaskar

Fourth Advisor

McCorquodale, J. Alex

Fifth Advisor

Fang, Zhide


There is a need to develop a mathematical expression capable of describing the removal of particulate chemical oxygen demand (PCOD) from wastewaters in biological film systems. In this context, organic particles that are maintained in suspension (i.e., not removed during normal settling) are the focus of experimentation, modeling, and discussion. The goal of this research project is to study the kinetics of PCOD removal from wastewaters by bacterial films, or biofilms. To achieve this objective, a bench-scale rotating disc biofilm reactor (RDBR) was operated using methanol (dissolved substrate), Min-U-Sil 10 (inorganic particulates), and Maizena corn starch (organic particulates) dissolved/suspended in the influent stream. The effect of the ratio of biofilm area to volumetric flow rate passing through the RDBR on the concentration of substrate remaining in the final effluent was determined, and the kinetic relationship was established for both dissolved substrate and particle removal. Exocellular polymeric substances (EPS) were extracted and quantified in order to explain the role of biological flocculation, or bioflocculation, in particulate removal. In the literature, Fick's first law and zero-order kinetics have described the diffusion and biochemical reaction of soluble substrate within the bacterial film matrix (when completely penetrated), respectively. The present study confirms this kinetic behavior for various influent methanol concentrations. On the other hand, the removal of particulates, organic and inorganic, adheres to first-order reaction kinetics. These findings, coupled with the identification of EPS, attribute bioflocculation as the primary removal mechanism of particulates. A mass balance on the biofilm reactor allowed for the development of a comprehensive rate expression for substrate consumption by biofilms when both dissolved and particulate substrates are available. Total chemical oxygen demand (TCOD) is comprised of dissolved chemical oxygen demand (DCOD) and PCOD, each of which can be readily determined through laboratory analysis. An equation was developed that accurately describes the disappearance of TCOD by the bioflocculation of PCOD and consumption of DCOD in the bench scale RDBR.


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