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Application of Stereolithographic Custom Models for Studying the Impact of Biofilms and Mineral Precipitation on Fluid Flow

Stoner, D. L., Watson, S. M., Stedtfeld, R. D., Meakin, P., Griffel, L. K., Tyler, T. L., Pegram, L. M., Barnes, J. M., Deason, V. A.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2005 v.71 no.12 pp. 8721-8728
Sporosarcina pasteurii, Sphingomonas, microbial growth, biofilm, chemical precipitation, calcite, bacterial colonization, models, groundwater flow, soil pore system, dyes, mathematical models, simulation models, aquifers, hydrogeology
Here we introduce the use of transparent experimental models fabricated by stereolithography for studying the impacts of biomass accumulation, minerals precipitation, and physical configuration of flow paths on liquid flow in fracture apertures. The internal configuration of the models ranged in complexity from simple geometric shapes to those that incorporate replicated surfaces of natural fractures and computationally derived fracture surfaces. High-resolution digital time-lapse imaging was employed to qualitatively observe the migration of colloidal and soluble dyes through the flow models. In this study, a Sphingomonas sp. and Sporosarcina (Bacillus) pasteurii influenced the fluid dynamics by physically altering flow paths. Microbial colonization and calcite deposition enhanced the stagnant regions adjacent to solid boundaries. Microbial growth and calcite precipitation occurred to a greater extent in areas behind the fabricated obstacles and less in high-velocity orifices.