Diffusional properties of methanogenic granular sludge: 1H-NMR Characterisation

P.N.L. Lens, R. Gastesi, F. Vergeldt, A.C. van Aelst, G. Pisabarro, H. van As

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21 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6644-6649
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • nuclear-magnetic-resonance
  • fatty-acid degradation
  • mass-transfer
  • transport processes
  • molecular-diffusion
  • porous-media
  • spin-echo
  • biofilms
  • nmr
  • coefficients

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