The Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Eprints Archive

Solute transport within porous biofilms: diffusion or dispersion?

Davit, Y. and Byrne, H. M. and Osborne, J. M. and Pitt-Francis, J. M. and Gavaghan, D. J. and Quintard, M. (2012) Solute transport within porous biofilms: diffusion or dispersion? Physical Review E . (Submitted)



Many microorganisms live within surface-associated consortia, termed biofilms, that can form intricate porous structures interspersed with a network of fluid channels. In such systems, transport phenomena, including flow and advection, regulate various aspects of cell behaviour by controllling nutrient supply, evacuation of waste products and permeation of antimicrobial agents. This study presents multiscale analysis of solute transport in these porous biofilms. We start our analysis with a channel-scale description of mass transport and use the method of volume averaging to derive a set of homogenized equations at the biofilmscale. We show that solute transport may be described via two coupled partial differential equations for the averaged concentrations, or telegrapher’s equations. These models are particularly relevant for chemical species, such as some antimicrobial agents, that penetrate cell clusters very slowly. In most cases, especially for nutrients, solute penetration is faster, and transport can be described via an advection-dispersion equation. In this simpler case, the effective diffusion is characterised by a second-order tensor whose components depend on: (1) the topology of the channels’ network; (2) the solute’s diffusion coefficients in the fluid and the cell clusters; (3) hydrodynamic dispersion effects; and (4) an additional dispersion term intrinsic to the two-phase configuration. Although solute transport in biofilms is commonly thought to be diffusion-dominated, this analysis shows that dispersion effects may significantly contribute to transport.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:D - G > General
Research Groups:Oxford Centre for Collaborative Applied Mathematics
ID Code:1481
Deposited By: Peter Hudston
Deposited On:02 Mar 2012 07:48
Last Modified:29 May 2015 19:10

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