EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Effect of biofilm permeability on flow and transport in three-dimensional porous media: A geostatistical study

Ishaan Markale1,2, Maxence Carrel3, Dorothee Kurz1,2, Veronica Morales4, Markus Holzner5,6, and Joaquin Jimenez-Martinez1,2
Ishaan Markale et al.
  • 1Department of Water Resources and Drinking Water, Eawag, Switzerland
  • 2Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • 3Geopraevent AG, Switzerland
  • 4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California Davis, United States
  • 5Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Switzerland
  • 6Department Surface Waters – Research and Management, Eawag, Switzerland

Bacterial biofilms can form in porous media that are of interest in industrial and particularly environmental applications such as in situ groundwater remediation. The presence of biofilms modifies pore-scale and bulk hydrodynamics and consequently solutes transport and reaction kinetics. Porous media consist of highly heterogeneous flow fields and thus biofilm growth is also highly variable resulting in spatially variable biofilm permeabilities. Random processes are often invoked in hydrogeology to model variable quantities. Geo-statistical simulations require numerous realizations of a stochastic process over a grid. Our study leverages highly resolved three-dimensional X-ray computed microtomography images of bacterial biofilms in a tubular reactor to numerically compute pore scale flow and solute transport on a fine grid by considering various realizations of the biofilm permeability field. Using a conservative tracer experiment we first validate our flow and transport model which is then used to understand the impact of a heterogeneous permeability field on fluid-fluid and biologically driven reactions.

How to cite: Markale, I., Carrel, M., Kurz, D., Morales, V., Holzner, M., and Jimenez-Martinez, J.: Effect of biofilm permeability on flow and transport in three-dimensional porous media: A geostatistical study, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-6202,, 2022.


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