Biological fouling, or biofouling, causes problems for a variety of industries, and is a significant engineering challenge. Biofouling is the accumulation of unwanted biological matter on surfaces and includes biofilms created by microbes and macrofouling created by macro-organisms. See here for how biofouling develops.
The type and extent of biofouling depends on the local environment, the surface composition and organisms involved; these vary significantly between medical, aquatic (living in or near water) and industrial applications.
In general, medical biofouling includes only biofilms, whereas aquatic and industrial fouling generally include a combination of biofilm, macrofouling and inorganic fouling from corrosion and suspended particles.
Biofilms are of particular interest to those companies working in oil; industrial and drinking water systems; speciality chemicals; household products; pharmaceuticals; medicine and oral healthcare.
Water companies are concerned about biofilms in drinking water systems, particularly the growth of coliform bacteria in the pipe network. The occurrence of coliform bacteria is related to: filtration methods; temperature; disinfectant type; residual, assimilable organic carbon (AOC) levels; corrosion control; and pipe material selection. The development of biofilms in drinking water distribution systems can cause pipe degradation […]
Microbes growing in biofilms encourage microbially-influenced corrosion (MIC) of carbon steel pipelines and can reduce the quality of the products those pipelines are carrying. That’s not good for companies pumping crude or refined oil though long pipes! Biocorrosion / MIC costs billions of dollars in damage every year in the United States alone. They affect […]
The biggest concern with evaporative cooling is that these systems can harbour biofilms containing Legionella pneumophila bacteria which causes Legionnaires’ disease, a serious threat to public health. Biofilms also reduce the performance of these heat exchange systems; they can block the system leading to poor reliability and corrosion. Further reading on evaporative cooling https://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/ See here for a fact sheet. […]