The Importance of Managing Biofilm
Where there is water, there is life. This includes cooling, chilled, process, and drinking water systems that facilities use every day. This life not only exists within the bulk water but sets up home on the surfaces of the water-related equipment, such as heat exchangers, piping, and basin walls. We call this deposit biofilm.
What Standard Microbiological Tests Don’t Show
Uncontrolled microbiological growth in cooling and process water systems is a multi-billion dollar problem for businesses each year. The primary cause of this expensive problem is biofilm. Biofilms form when bacteria and other microorganisms found in the bulk water attach to exposed surfaces and begin to produce a mass of biopolymers known as extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). The EPS provides a sticky, protective barrier that allows complex communities of bacteria to thrive and exponentially grow. Bulky, biofouling deposits can quickly form as the EPS traps dirt, corrosion byproducts, and other debris suspended in the water, leading to blockages.
Biofilm deposits are one of the most difficult challenges your cooling water systems face. They tend to start in areas not accessible to biocide treatments, and can quickly grow to form biofouling deposits that can cause corrosion damage, blockages, reduced heat transfer, and amplify the growth of Legionella bacteria. Once they become established, biofilms are incredibly tenacious and difficult to remove.
Steps to their Growth
Biofilms are the root cause of serious problems in building potable and industrial water systems including clogged piping, reduced heat transfer efficiency, microbiologically-influenced corrosion, and Legionella transmission. Biofilms are dynamic, complex structures optimized for microbial growth and survival, which make them difficult to remove and control.
Key Terms for Water Treatment Novices
Water treatment specialists can forget that their clients may not understand the technical terms used in our industry. The language of microbiological control can be particularly confusing. To help establish a common working vocabulary, it’s important to define some key terms. Let’s get started!