June 2006, Vol. 18, No.6

Water Volumes

Biofilms in Wastewater Treatment — An Interdisciplinary Approach

S. Wuertz, P. Bishop, and P. Wildere (2003). IWA Publishing, Alliance House, 12 Caxton St. London SW1H 0QS, England, 400 pp., $60, hardcover, ISBN 18433990078.

The title of this book makes it immediately clear what type of information is contained within: interdisciplinary. In following this line of attack, the editors have presented a clear picture of biofilms as they apply to wastewater treatment. Both modeling and experimental design approaches are examined in terms of their origins and current state of affairs.

This book champions the importance of understanding the biological properties of biofilms, including population composition, interrelationships, significant structures, methods of mass transport, and structural stability. Gaining this knowledge, the editors maintain, will allow the development of science-based engineering models that can be applied in our daily practice and design efforts.

One section focuses on the constitution of biofilms, their physical and chemical characteristics, and the relevance of these characteristics to wastewater treatment. This useful correlation gives readers the knowledge needed to estimate biofilm performance in a variety of wastewater treatment designs. Frequently throughout, both old and novel theories are expounded and compared, giving a broader picture of the topic. Readers will benefit from the numerous examples given.

Other sections of the book are tailored to specific audiences. The discussion on laboratory techniques and procedures used to analyze and characterize biofilms will help practitioners select specific methods and tests. A full section is dedicated to reconcile the engineering approach with scientific research. Operations-related phenomena specific to biofilms, such as detachment and adhesion, are also addressed.

The editors make a solid case for an integrated approach to the study, examination, and use of biofilms in today’s biological, mathematical, and engineering practices.  

Miguel Vera is manager of biosolids product at EIMCO Water Technologies (Salt Lake City).