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A process-based model relevant to landfill and anaerobic digesters was developed, which included a novel approach to biomass transfer between a cellulose-bound biofilm and biomass in the bulk liquid. Model results highlighted the significance of the bacterial colonization of cellulose particles by attachment through contact in solution. Simulations revealed that both enhanced colonization and cellulose degradation are associated with reduced cellulose particle size, increased biomass populations in solution and increased cellulose-binding ability of the biomass. This suggests that transportation of biomass into the system from elsewhere and/or bacterial inoculation of such systems could enhance degradation significantly. A sensitivity analysis of the system parameters revealed the biological rate and yield properties of the hydrolyzing bacteria are most significant with regard to cellulose degradation in the system.