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Controlling the Distribution of Microbially Precipitated Calcium Carbonate in Radial Flow Environments

Zambare, Neerja M., Lauchnor, Ellen G., Gerlach, Robin
Environmental science & technology 2019 v.53 no.10 pp. 5916-5925
Sporosarcina pasteurii, bacteria, bacterial adhesion, calcium, calcium carbonate, glass, porous media, prediction, subsurface application, urea, wells
Bacterially driven reactions such as ureolysis can induce calcium carbonate precipitation, a well-studied process called microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP). MICP is of interest in subsurface applications such as sealing leaks around wells. For effective field deployment, it is important to study MICP under radial flow conditions, which are relevant to near-well environments. In this study, a laboratory-scale radial flow reactor of 23 cm diameter, with a 1 mm glass bead monolayer serving as a porous medium, was used to investigate the effects of fluid flow rates and calcium concentrations on the mass and distribution of MICP by the ureolytic bacterium Sporosarcina pasteurii. Experiments were performed at hydraulic residence times of 14, 7, and 3.5 min and calcium to urea molar ratios of 0.5:1, 1:1, and 2:1. The total amount of CaCO₃ precipitated in the reactor increased with increasing residence time and with decreasing Ca²⁺ to urea molar ratios. Increased bacterial attachment and increased CaCO₃ precipitation were observed with distance from the center inlet of the reactor in all experiments. More uniform calcium distribution was achieved at lower flow rates. The relationship between reaction and transport rate (i.e., the Damköhler number) is identified as a useful parameter for the prediction of MICP in radial flow environments.