The Challenge

Approximately 5 % of water-borne microorganisms are present in planktonic or free-floating form. However, the major proportion of microorganisms lives stationary on surfaces. Under normal environmental conditions they start to form biofilms.

Biofilms are a gooey substance known as an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) which contains various sugars, proteins and nucleic acids (such as DNA) in a network structure. Microorganisms remain metabolically active in biofilms where they are protected against physical and chemical damage. Biofilms are ubiquitous in nature, yet, especially frequent in industrial, technical, medical and manufacturing water supply systems. Examples are cooling water lines of cooling towers, water supply elements of medical devices, and household drinking water supplies. There, biofilms may obstruct mechanical devices or disintegrate the surface or various materials.

A number of different antimicrobial agents and technical systems have been devised for water disinfection or control of microbial growth. Many commercially available active agents are expensive, toxic to humans and aquatic life, non-biodegradable and ecologically questionable.

Depending on the application, this may result in toxicologically high risk contacts and has come under increasing scrutiny in the public. Therefore, there is a growing demand for natural, ecologically and economically favorable antimicrobial agents. However, such natural agents are often poorly water-soluble, may have an obnoxious smell or taste, or are not able to penetrate mature biofilms adequately at technically achievable concentrations.

Peroxides, especially hydrogen peroxide, hypochlorite and/or hypochlorous acid, are among the most ecofriendly antimicrobial agents and therefore have customarily been applied for antimicrobial water treatment over many years. However, without further modifications, these compounds are considerably volatile and usually will only achieve insufficient antimicrobial efficacy in water systems and biofilms.

Partner of:

curasolutions logo smart cities

curasolutions logo oier

curasolutions logo usc


FaLang translation system by Faboba