Investigating Biofilm Recalcitrance In Pipe Flow Systems

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Srijan Aggarwal, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States
It is challenging to remove biofilms from pipe walls owing to their recalcitrant nature. Several physiological explanations resulting from the community existence of microbes have been offered to explain the recalcitrant nature of biofilms. Herein a biophysical aspect of biofilm recalcitrance is being reported. While optimal efficiency argument suggests that bacterial biofilms would be just strong enough to withstand the surrounding shear forces, our experimental findings reveal the biofilms to be at least 330 to 55000 times stronger. Additionally, Monte-Carlo simulations for biofilm detachment in drinking water systems were performed, which show that the existing flow velocities are insufficient for significant biofilm removal and warrant alternative detachment strategies. This emphasizes the importance of considering strategies for biofilm weakening (and subsequent detachment) in conjunction with or as an alternative to bacterial inactivation.