The diffusive properties of anaerobic methanogenic and sulfidogenic aggregates present in wastewater treatment bioreactors were studied using diffusion analysis by relaxation time-separated pulsed-field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and NMR imaging. NMR spectroscopy measurements were performed at 22degreesC with 10 ml of granular sludge at a magnetic field strength of 0.5 T (20 MHz resonance frequency for protons). Self-diffusion coefficients of H2O in the investigated series of mesophilic aggregates were found to be 51 to 78% lower than the self-diffusion coefficient of free water. Interestingly, self-diffusion coefficients of H2O were independent of the aggregate size for the size fractions investigated. Diffusional transport occurred faster in aggregates growing under nutrient-rich conditions (e.g., the bottom of a reactor) or at high (55degreesC) temperatures than in aggregates cultivated in nutrient-poor conditions or at low (10degreesC) temperatures. Exposure of aggregates to 2.5% glutaraldehyde or heat (70 or 90degreesC for 30 min) modified the diffusional transport up to 20%. In contrast, deactivation of aggregates by HgCl2 did not affect the H2O self-diffusion coefficient in aggregates. Analysis of NMR images of a single aggregate shows that methanogenic aggregates possess a spin-spin relaxation time and self-diffusion coefficient distribution, which are due to both physical (porosity) and chemical (metal sulfide precipitates) factors.
- fatty-acid degradation
- transport processes