Biofouling

Biofouling has been well known for almost 30 years, and is in:

 

  • Hydraulic fracturing – biofouling of fractures
  • Marine and power plant condensers using seawater
  • Ion exchange resin for water treatment
  • Reverse Osmosis membranes
  • Biofouling in stirred tank reactors
  • Heat exchanger and cooling water systems
  • Pipe loops in water systems
  • Industrial equipment
  • Food Packing
  • Medical Devices
  • Iron and Mn bacteria biofouling of irrigation lines and equipment
  • Seawater biofouling of industrial equipment
  • Pharmaceutical equipment

Listed are some of the thousands of equipments and processed that organics and microorganisms can foul if not prevented properly.

 

Perhaps not so recognized at this time are the roles of the microorganisms. These are insidious organisms of relatively small dimensions and simple abilities which are almost totally ubiquitous within the soils, surface and ground-waters and even upon and within many of the living organisms which populate this planet. 

Additionally, these microbes are able to resist, survive, adapt and flourish in some very harsh habitats. Some examples of these extreme environments are:

 

  • acidophiles growth 0.0 to 5.0 pH
  • alkalophiles growth 8.5 to 11.5 pH
  • psychrophiles growth range 36 to +15 ºC max.
  • thermophiles growth range +45 to +250 ºC max.
  • aerobes oxygen concentration from >0.02 ppm to saturated
  • anaerobes no oxygen required, may even be toxic to some
  • barotolerant hydrostatic pressures of 400 to 1,100 atmospheres
  • halophiles growth in 2.8 to 6.2 M sodium chloride

So extreme are some of these environments that the recovery of living (viable) cells and culturing (growing) these organisms, represent a set of challenges in each case. The nub of the concept of versatility within the microbial kingdom is that, provided there is liquid water and a source of energy and basic nutrients, microbial growth will eventually occur once adaptation has taken place.

One very important effect of extreme environments is that the number of species able to (1) survive and (2) flourish will decrease in proportion to the degree of extremity exhibited by the local environment. For example, the range of acidophilic species which would flourish in acidic conditions as the pH falls from 5.0 to 0.5 would diminish from as many as thirty species to as few as two.