Biofilm growth in porous media is difficult to study non-invasively due to the opaqueness and heterogeneity of the systems. Magnetic resonance is utilized to non-invasively study water dynamics within porous media. Displacement-relaxation correlation experiments were performed on fluid flow during biofilm growth in a model porous media of mono-dispersed polystyrene beads. The spin–spin T2 magnetic relaxation distinguishes between the biofilm phase and bulk fluid phase due to water–biopolymer interactions present in the biofilm, and the flow dynamics are measured using PGSE NMR experiments. By correlating these two measurements, the effects of biofilm growth on the fluid dynamics can be separated into a detailed analysis of both the biofilm phase and the fluid phase simultaneously within the same experiment. Within the displacement resolution of these experiments, no convective flow was measured through the biomass. An increased amount of longitudinal hydrodynamic dispersion indicates increased hydrodynamic mixing due to fluid channeling caused by biofilm growth. The effect of different biofilm growth conditions was measured by varying the strength of the bacterial growth medium. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2013; 110: 1366–1375. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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