Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Geosci. Model Dev., 16, 1683–1696, 2023



© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Microbial activity and chemical reactions in porous media depend on the local conditions at the pore scale and can involve complex feedback with fluid flow and mass transport. We present a modeling framework that quantitatively accounts for the interactions between the bio(geo)chemical and physical processes and that can integrate genome-scale microbial metabolic information into a dynamically changing, spatially explicit representation of environmental conditions. The model couples a lattice Boltzmann implementation of Navier–Stokes (flow) and advection–diffusion-reaction (mass conservation) equations. Reaction formulations can include both kinetic rate expressions and flux balance analysis, thereby integrating reactive transport modeling and systems biology. We also show that the use of surrogate models such as neural network representations of in silico cell models can speed up computations significantly, facilitating applications to complex environmental systems. Parallelization enables simulations that resolve heterogeneity at multiple scales, and a cellular automaton module provides additional capabilities to simulate biofilm dynamics. The code thus constitutes a platform suitable for a range of environmental, engineering and – potentially – medical applications, in particular ones that involve the simulation of microbial dynamics.