Investigating the Effect of Bioclogging on Electrical and Flow and Transport Properties of Porous Media


In many natural and engineered contaminant remediation systems, microbial growth and biomass accumulation can lead to pore clogging and cause significant changes in the flow and transport properties of the porous media (Seifert and Engesgaard, 2007; Brovelli et al., 2009). Bioclogging in porous media may result from accumulation of bacterial cells in the pore space, from biofilm development, or from excretion of extra-cellular polymers (Vandevivere and Baveye, 1992; Rinck- Pfeiffer, 2000). Recent advances in biogeophysical investigations have demonstrated the potential of geophysical techniques to elucidate microbial processes both in the laboratory and in the field (Atekwana and Slater, 2009). In the present study, flow through sand columns inoculated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa wild type (PAO1 Gfp), which is a model biofilm forming microorganism were used to investigate the effect of bioclogging on the complex conductivity and flow and transport properties. Our main objective is to determine how bioclogging manifests in the electrical properties of sands. Our secondary objective is to determine how complex conductivity relates to changes in hydraulic conductivity, which is a key parameter needed to model flow and transport in porous media. Our results suggest that bioclogging resulting from increases in microbial cell concentration and the production of exopolymeric substances (EPS) had a large impact on the imaginary conductivity, hydraulic conductivity, and porosity.

Meeting Name

23rd Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (2010: Apr.11-15, Keystone, CO)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Bacterial Cells; Bioclogging; Biofilm Development; Biomass Accumulation; Complex Conductivity; Contaminant Remediation; Exopolymeric Substances; Extra Cellular Polymers; Flow And Transport; Flowthrough; Geophysical Techniques; Key Parameters; Microbial Cells; Microbial Growth; Microbial Process; Pore Clogging; Pore Space; Pseudomonas Aeruginosa; Sand Columns; Wild Types; Geophysics; Hydraulic Conductivity; Porous Materials; Transport Properties; Electric Properties

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International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

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Publication Date

01 Apr 2010