"Environment" research area

Optimizing Biofilm Growth in Porous Media for Cleaner Water

Principal Investigator - Peter KangPrimary InvestigatorPeter Kang
Co-Investigators: Josh Feinberg, Sang Lee (Postdoctoral Scholar), Michael Chen (Postdoctoral Scholar)
Industry Partners Bay West LLC
Award Type: Seed Grant - Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Problem: Biofilms occur naturally all over the world, including water filtration systems and groundwater remediation systems. Biofilm build-up can detrimentally impact flow rates which can compromise the performance of filtration and remediation systems. At the same time, biofilms can effectively degrade contaminants. To optimize the role of biofilms within filtration systems, we first need a better understanding of biofilms at a microscopic scale within porous media.

Solution: A new visualization system designed to characterize biofilms at the microscopic pore scale will provide researchers with a better understanding of the variables that affect biofilm development in filters. This new system will enable deeper analysis of factors such as fluid flow, water chemistry, and pore structure, and therefore characterization of their influence on biofilm growth and the overall remediation potential of such systems.

Impact: Through a more in-depth understanding of biofilm formation in porous media systems, researchers will optimize the role of biofilms within filtration systems. This fine-scale insight on natural filtration systems should also offer many application opportunities for managing groundwater remediation in various settings.