NMR characterization of unfrozen brine vein distribution and structure in frozen systems

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


The liquid vein network (LVN) that forms in the interface of ice crystals or particles exists in frozen porous media due to the freezing point depression. The distribution and structure of the LVNs are dynamic due to the ice recrystallization phenomenon. In ice alone, the LVNs formed by the ice crystal interfaces can be characterized as a porous medium in terms of surface to volume ratio (SV /) and the tortuosity (alpha).The presence of solid particles or ice-binding proteins (IBPs) make the frozen system much more complex. The research presented uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experimental techniques, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), relaxation and self-diffusion measurements, to study the development of the LVNs in complex frozen systems containing solid particles or IBPs. Poly-methyl methacrylate (PMMA) particles of diameters 0.4, 9.9, and 102.2 microns are used with brine solution concentrations of 15, 30, and 60 mM Magnesium chloride (MgCl 2) to simulate complex frozen systems. The dynamic rearrangement with time of LVNs can be studied as a function of temperature, MgCl 2 concentration, and PMMA particle size. The results indicate that small solid particles dominate the structure dynamics while in larger solid particle packed beds the solute effect dominates. This behavior is quantified by determination of SV / and alpha from NMR relaxation and diffusion data. Additionally, IBP produced from the V3519-10 organism isolated from the Vostok ice core in Antarctica is added to ice samples frozen from 30, 60 and 120 mM MgCl 2 solution to investigate its influence on LVNs over months of aging. The interplay of the solute and biological effects is complicated but it appears the biological effect is more pronounced at lower salt concentrations. The data provide a basis for eventual combination of salt, IBP and solid particulate studies. The result of MRI, relaxation and self-diffusion measurements indicate the inhibition of ice recrystallization as a function of particle size, MgCl 2 concentration and the presence of IBP. The non-invasive data presented along with calibration of the relaxation experiments with self-diffusion experiments, demonstrate the continued extension of NMR techniques developed from porous media to frozen porous media and ice LVN structure.




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