An experimental system has been developed that allows the monitoring of biofilm development on supports exposed to water of different characteristics. The system consists of a series of packed-bed reactors filled with glass beads, and by periodically removing biofilm attached to these beads for off-line analyses this provides a means for monitoring biofilm development. Despite its reduced dimensions (6.9 cm long and 1.58 cm in diameter), the experimental system used has a sampling surface of 90.3 cm2 (including only the surface of the glass beads). This allows reproducible and representative samples to be taken from different water systems, providing a reliable and economic method for evaluating in situ the formation of biofilms from different environments. The set-up of the entire experimental system was constructed to meet the demands of field experiments in a well-defined hydrodynamic environment and to allow easy removal of samples for biomass quantification and microscopic observation. Data obtained using this device can be used as an indicator of the risk of biofilm formation in different water systems. This indicator, "the biofilm accumulation potential", represents an effective and representative tool for the monitoring of biofilm development in an integrated antifouling strategy, in order to help keep biofouling, scaling and microbial risks under control. According to the experiments with the packed-bed reactors used with a high flow regime, the ratio TCN/HPC could provide an indication of the state of the biofilm, and lower ratios could indicate a higher biofilm accumulation potential. © 2005 Taylor & Francis.
- Biofilm monitoring
- Drinking water systems
- Packed-bed reactors
- Potential of biofilm accumulation
- TCN/HPC ratio