IWA Publishing

Effect of biofilm on colloid attachment in saturated porous media

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Biofilm plays an important role in controlling the transport of colloids in a porous media. Biofilms are formed when micro-organisms come in contact with substrates, and are able to attach and grow with availability of nutrients. The microorganisms get embedded in a matrix of the substrate and extracellular polymeric substances which are responsible for the morphology, physico-chemical properties, structure and coherence of the biofilm. In this study, the effect of biofilm and its aging on colloid removal was studied on a glass bead column. Oocysts, polystyrene microspheres and inorganic colloids were used as colloidal particles. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was used as a model biofilm-forming microorganism. Presence of biofilm significantly enhanced colloid removal in the column. After 3 weeks, almost complete colloid removal was observed. The formation of biofilm was confirmed by various physical characterization techniques. During the extended aging study, biofilm sloughed off under shear stress. The loss of biofilm was higher during the early stage of its growth, and subsequently slowed down probably due to the formation of a more rigid biofilm. This research indicates that biofilm formation, maturation and sloughing-off play a critical role in colloid removal through porous media.

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