Biofilms (Biological Fouling) are communities of microorganisms that develop on surfaces. Once these free-flowing microbes from either a closed (domestic water) or open circuit (cooling tower) attach to a surface, their reproductive process begins.
1) Attachment to surface
2) Micro-colonies form through reproduction, and other free-flowing microbes begin to attach onto existing biological growth
3) Extracellular Matrix: a smooth cellular surface begins to form (biofilm), often resistant to disinfection
4) Maturization: the pockets of microbes burst and are carried away during the water flow
5) Dispersion and Recolonization
The Impact of Biofilm
- Heat transfer effeciency is drastically reduced. Biofilm has an insulative value (R-Value) five times greater than calcium scale. If 1/16″ of biofilm is on heat exchanger surfaces, this is equivalent to having 1/3″ of calcium scale.
- Heat transfer surfaces experience biocorrosion.
- Drag resistance to flow increases, decreasing flow and increasing pump operational horsepower.
- Biofilm harbors growth of hazardous biologics and is difficult to remove once colonized.
Staphylococcus aureus biofilm
- Encapsulation: Flow-Tech causes calcium to precipitate, and bacteria becomes encrusted inside, allowing the bacteria to become large enough to get filtered out, as well as inhibiting the bacteria’s ability to excrete waste, obtain nutrients, and reproduce.
- Electroporation: Intense electrical fields from the Flow-Tech system’s signal create small holes in the cellular wall of the bacteria, requiring them to spend their time and energy attempting to repair instead of reproducing.
- Flocculation: Treatment causes bio-debris to stick to each other and to scale powder formed from Flow-Tech’s signal, resulting in the debris forming flocs, which trap the bacteria and are large enough to be removed by filtration.
- With Flow-Tech’s signal conducted into the water, the whole system is treated instead of a specific location. Treatment of biofilm is seen even in great distances from the signal tags.
- Reduction of bacteria populations removes bacteria’s ability to support a biofilm colony and reduces the risk of diseases such as Legionella.
Flow-Tech Results: In Seattle, a company was having issues with Pseudomonas Stutzeri in their closed loop system. Rather than choosing a chemical dosing program, they installed Flow-Tech. Original bacteria counts exceeded 13,000 CFU/mL. Within months, the bacteria counts were reduced to 20 CFU/mL. The bacteria count was so low that it met CDC drinking water standards of less than 500 CFU/mL. This system continues to be protected by Flow-Tech today.