Reduction of microbial biofilm formation using hydrophobic nano-silica coating on cooling tower fill material
Keywords:biofilm, nano-silica, hydrophobic coating, cooling tower, fill material
A cooling tower is a heat removal device, which extracts waste heat to the atmosphere through the cooling of a water stream to a lower temperature. Cooling towers are frequently associated with biofilm problems and Legionnaires disease outbreaks. Where biofilms can cause clogging and corrosion, reduction of biofilms is important for operational reasons and public health. Therefore, effective anti-biofilm strategies are needed in practice. The aim of the present study was to reduce biofilm formation using a nano-hydrophobic coating on cooling tower fill materials – polypropylene cooling tower fill material was coated with nano-silica. The effectiveness of the hydrophobic coating was investigated for a 6-month test period in a model cooling tower system, by monthly counting of the surface-associated bacteria using an epifluorescence microscope. A significant reduction (up to 4 log) in surface-associated bacteria was observed on coated test samples in comparison to uncoated control coupons. This study is the first report regarding the use of nano-silica coatings on cooling tower fills. The coating can be easily fabricated and the range of possible applications can be expanded to include a variety of conditions.
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