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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2016 May;113(5):989-1000. doi: 10.1002/bit.25868. Epub 2015 Nov 10.

Assessing the influence of biofilm surface roughness on mass transfer by combining optical coherence tomography and two-dimensional modeling.

Author information

1
Chair of Water Chemistry, Water Technology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Engler-Bunte-Ring 9, Karlsruhe, 76131, Germany.
2
Institute of Functional Interfaces, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany.
3
Urban Bioengineering for Resource Recovery, Bauhaus-Institute for Infrastructure Solutions, Bauhaus-Universityät Weimar, Weimar, Germany.
4
Chair of Water Chemistry, Water Technology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Engler-Bunte-Ring 9, Karlsruhe, 76131, Germany. harald.horn@kit.edu.

Abstract

Imaging and modeling are two major approaches in biofilm research to understand the physical and biochemical processes involved in biofilm development. However, they are often used separately. In this study we combined these two approaches to investigate substrate mass transfer and mass flux. Cross-sectional biofilm images were acquired by means of optical coherence tomography (OCT) for biofilms grown on carriers. A 2D biofilm model was developed incorporating OCT images as well as a simplified biofilm geometry serving as structural templates. The model incorporated fluid flow, substrate transfer and biochemical conversion of substrates and simulated the hydrodynamics surrounding the biofilm structure as well as the substrate distribution. The method allowed detailed analysis of the hydrodynamics and mass transfer characteristics at the micro-scale. Biofilm activity with respect to substrate fluxes was compared among different combinations of flow, substrate availability and biomass density. The combined approach revealed that higher substrate fluxes at heterogeneous biofilm surface under two conditions: pure diffusion and when high flow velocity along the biofilms surface renders the whole liquid-biofilm interface to be highly active. In-between the two conditions the substrate fluxes across the surface of smooth biofilm geometry were higher than that of the heterogeneous biofilms.

KEYWORDS:

biofilm imaging; biofilm modeling; convection; diffusion; mass transfer; optical coherence tomography

PMID:
26498328
DOI:
10.1002/bit.25868
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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