News & View, Volume 47 | Biofilms? MIC? What Are They?
By: Edward Dougherty
Has the heat conversion efficiency of your heat exchangers degraded? Is the flow of your cooling water system being impeded? Are you repairing or replacing equipment due to localized corrosion causing through-wall failure? Inefficiencies and equipment failures are big problems in any industrial process, but the cause of the problem may be smaller than you think. You might have a biofilm problem. Bacteria floating in a cooling or process water can become colonies on wetted surfaces and can form robust biofilms over remarkably short times. Biofilms are collections of living and dead cells that are enclosed in an extracellular polymeric substance matrix secreted by living organisms. The unchecked growth of biofilms can significantly decrease thermal efficiency on surfaces as the biofilm acts as an insulating layer. Highly localized chemical effects can also be created that lead to microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).