alexa Pore-scale investigation of biomass plug development and propagation in porous media.
Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences

Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology

Author(s): Stewart TL, Scott Fogler H

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Abstract Biomass plugging of porous media finds application in enhanced oil recovery and bioremediation. An understanding of biomass plugging of porous media was sought by using a porous glass micromodel through which biomass and nutrient were passed. This study describes the pore-scale physics of biomass plug propagation of Leuconostoc mesenteroides under nutrient-rich conditions. It was found that, as the nutrient flowed through the micromodel, the initial biomass plug occurred at the nutrient-inoculum interface due to growth in the larger pore throats. As growth proceeded, biomass filled and closed these larger pore throats, until only isolated groupings of pore throats with smaller radii remained empty. As nutrient flow continued, a maximum pressure drop was reached. At the maximum pressure drop, the biomass yielded in a manner similar to a Bingham plastic to form a breakthrough channel consisting of a path of interconnected pore throats. The channel incorporated the isolated groupings of empty pore throats that had been present before breakthrough. As the nutrient flow continued, subsequent plugs developed as breakthrough channels refilled with biomass and in situ growth was stimulated in the region just downstream of the previous plug. The downstream plugs had a higher fraction of isolated groupings of empty pore throats, which can be attributed to depletion of nutrient downstream. When the next breakthrough channel formed, it incorporated these isolated groupings, causing the breakthrough channels to be branched. It was observed that the newly formed plug could be less stable with this higher fraction of empty pore throats and that the location of breakthrough channels changed in subsequent plugs. This change in breakthrough channel location could be attributed to the redistribution of nutrient flow and the changes in flowrate in the pore throats. Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 77: 577-588, 2002; DOI 10.1002/bit.10044
This article was published in Biotechnol Bioeng and referenced in Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology

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