Biofouling and Biofilm Treatment Explained

Biofouling and Biofilm Treatment Explained

Biofouling is the buildup of organic materials, typically small plants, microorganisms, or algae on submerged mechanical equipment. Biofilm, more specifically, is a thin slimy layer of bacteria that adheres to any surface but can appear in the same situations prone to biofouling.  

In industrial settings, it is important to control biofouling, as it can often decrease the efficiency of a system by clogging holes or reducing potential water flow.   

Luckily, biofouling isn’t permanent and can be removed using either physical or chemical cleaning methods—or a combination of both. If you do find yourself with a fouling problem, then read on to learn about the best biofilm treatment methods. 

Membrane Cleaning: Physical  

Physical methods of removing biofouling and biofilm include:  

Hydraulic Cleaning: A common technique where water is flushed forwards and backwards through the system under extreme pressure to loosen scum.  

Pneumatic Cleaning: Pneumatic refers to the use of air, including, air lifting, air bubbling and air scouring, all of which use pressurized air to knock off material.  

Ultrasound: Exposing the system to ultrasound can create cavities in the fouling material and disrupt the microorganisms, causing layers of the material to fall off.  

Electric Field Therapy: While also a method of preventing biomass from accumulating, exposing the system to electric fields may remove some of the gathered microorganisms.  

Membrane Cleaning: Chemical 

Utilizing a chemical method of cleaning typically involves killing the organisms that are attached to the mechanical surfaces, which will then allow them to be flushed out of the system. The following are examples of chemicals that can be used:  

Caustic chemicals  NaOH, KOH, NHOH  

Acidic  HCL, HNO3, H2SO4, H3PO4, citric acid, oxalic acid  

Surfactants (detergents) alkyl sulphate, cetyl trimethyl ammonium bromide, sodium dodecyl sulphate  

Oxidants (disinfectants)  NaOCl, H2O2, KMnO4  

Cleaning blends  Ecolink’s Biofilm Buster  

Caustics, acids, and surfactants all work by increasing the solubility of organic chemicals found in most biofouling organisms, thus making them less “sticky” and allowing the water flowing through the system to capture and remove them.  

Other chemicals work by decreasing the electric attraction between the organic chemicals in the organisms, or by simply killing the organisms, causing them to release their hold from the system’s membranes. Surfactants, or detergents, are particularly important for biofilm treatment because they work to disrupt the attraction between the surface of the system and the organisms in the water directly next to them.   

Determining how well any of these methods work is done by measuring the difference in water flow through the impacted system. A combination of physical and chemical treatments is often needed.  

Need Industrial-Grade Chemicals for Biofouling and Biofilm Treatment? 

If you need help figuring out the best chemical approach to biofilm treatment, Ecolink is happy to connect with you. Our range of available chemicals and staff of knowledgeable experts will get your system back up and running at high capacity.  

Reach out to us today to receive a free quote and consultation session! 

What Is Biofouling Prevention?

What Is Biofouling Prevention?

Biofouling refers to the unwanted build-up of biological materials, such as bacteria, algae, or other microorganisms on surfaces submerged in water. It occurs commonly in industrial settings, where water is pumped through a system, typically as a cooling mechanism. For cost reasons, the water used is often “open circulating,” meaning that it comes from an open body of water, and thus is host to numerous biological species.  

Biofouling can have serious implications for the efficiency and safety of an industrial system. However, there’s no need to worry. With the proper tools and prevention techniques, you can protect your system.  

How Can I Implement Biofouling Prevention?  

Treatments to prevent biological fouling can take many forms, including:  

Biocide Treatments: chemical additives that kill microorganisms  

UV Irradiation: exposing water to UV light will prevent organisms from reproducing  

Bacteria Inhibitors: certain chemicals will prevent bacteria from communicating, thus dissuading bacteria accumulation 

Structural Changes: replacing the materials of a structure with certain polymer blends, or coating them in hydrophobic paint will reduce the risk of fouling  

Why Should I Prevent Biofouling?  

Biofouling can have an extreme impact on the efficiency of an industrial system. If the structure affected is used to direct water flow, the added biomass can clog pathways, making the system less efficient.  

For cooling systems where the surrounding water is intended to draw heat out of the structure, accumulated biomass will act as a sort of insulator, and make heat transfer less viable. This could be very harmful in situations like nuclear power plants, where enormous coils direct the heat generated in nuclear fusion to a large source of water, allowing the system to remain at a stable temperature. In fact, nearly 4% of power station failures in the United States are caused by fouling.  

Biofouling can also cause damage to submerged equipment through bio-corrosion. Bio-corrosion occurs when organic chemicals created by the biomass on a certain structure will eat away at the material it is attached to, similar to how battery acid can corrode small electronics.  

Need Biofouling Prevention Help?  

At Ecolink, we are proud providers of industrial-grade chemicals that assist companies in their daily operations and with any issues they may have. 

 If you are interested in biofilm and biofouling prevention for your industrial water system, don’t hesitate to reach out! One of our knowledgeable experts will be happy to help you find the best solution for your needs! 

Biofouling Prevention Treatment

Biofouling Prevention Treatment

If you’ve ever swam in a natural body of water, you may be familiar with the slimy greenish-brown scum that accumulates on most submerged objects. Water is full of bacteria, viruses, algae, and other microorganisms.  

Just like pond scum, the inside of industrial systems containing water is susceptible to organic growth. This undesirable growth, known as biofouling, can clog water flow and decrease efficiency. For this reason, biofouling prevention treatment is critical.  

Biocide Treatment  

Traditionally, a common practice for preventing biofouling has been to add biocides or antimicrobial chemicals to the water that is being flushed through the system. Antimicrobial chemicals are substances that excel at slowing the spread of or killing fungi, bacteria, and viruses, and are used in treatments for: 

  • Cooling water systems 
  • Industrial water tanks 
  • Heat exchangers 
  • & more 

However, different microorganisms respond differently to certain biocides/antimicrobials, so it is important to understand our enemy. Listed below are three factors that’ll determine which chemical you should use for preventing biofouling in your industrial water system: 

  1. The level of bioactivity 
  2. The pH 
  3. The temperature of the water 

While your answers to the above factors will determine the type of biocide you use, they’ll also determine the frequency with which you apply the biocide. 

Here are a few examples of common chemicals used as a biocide:  

  • Chlorine   
  • Chlorine Dioxide  
  • Chloramines  
  • Potassium Ferrate  
  • Ozone  
  • Iodine  
  • Hydrogen Peroxide  
  • Peracetic Acid  
  • Sodium Bisulphite  
  • Formaldehyde  
  • Glutaraldehyde  
  • Quaternary Ammonium  

Not all the chemicals listed above will work in every setting. Sometimes certain chemicals can create harmful byproducts, are unstable unless produced on-site, or may be destructive to certain industrial materials. For example, certain chloramines cannot be used for wastewater treatment because they may create carcinogens and are destructive to certain filtering membranes.   

Alternative Biofouling Prevention Treatments  

Luckily, there are alternative biofouling treatments that don’t involve high risks to human and environmental health. Here is a list of safer and greener treatments used to prevent biofouling in industrial settings:  

UV Radiation 

Though not a chemical additive, UV irradiation has also been used as a disinfectant in water treatment. UV exposure works by splitting some of the water molecules to create hydroxyl radicals (unstable “half-molecules”), which can split up bigger organic molecules and inhibit microbial growth by damaging their DNA.  

However, the efficiency of UV irradiation depends on the density of biomass and the ability to expose all the water, making it an expensive solution  

Nutrient Limitation  

Certain microorganisms feed on chemicals such as phosphorus and phosphate. Removing those chemicals from the water, using absorbents or electrochemical coagulation, may reduce the potential for fouling.  

Interruption of QS Signals  

Microorganisms use quorum sensing (QS) to communicate with each other. Several chemicals, including vanillin, furanone, and acylase can interrupt these signals, and deter microbial growth.  

Membrane Surface Modifications   

Sometimes the best method of controlling biofouling is to make changes to the surfaces which accumulate the most debris. This could mean making the membranes out of a blended polymer, coating the surface in a hydrophobic sealant, or including antimicrobial additives in the material.  

Looking for an Industrial-Grade Biofouling Prevention Treatment?  

Ecolink is ready to help you solve your biofouling problem before it even starts! Contact us today to learn what treatments may work best for you! 

What Is Cooling Tower Chemical Dosing?

What Is Cooling Tower Chemical Dosing?

Industrial systems utilize the cooling mechanism of water evaporation to remove heat from high-powered mechanical processes. Often, the water used is from a natural source, and not filtered before it is circulated through the cooling tower. Due to this, the water often contains many extra minerals and organic materials. 

Cooling tower chemical dosing is used to prevent damage to the system by mitigating the effects of mineral buildup and preventing biological accumulation. 

Depending on the scale and fouling levels of the water tower, different methods are more effective. Here is an overview of some of the most common procedures: 

Shot Dosing 

This method involves chemicals being added manually and following a set schedule. Shot dosing is the cheapest method but can lead to different levels of concentration. 


  A pump continuously releases chemicals into a simple automated system. However, because there is a constant stream, it is important to monitor the water to make sure the levels released are still effective and not causing additional corrosion. 


Similar to the continuous release system, an automated pump releases chemicals on a timer. This method should be used in conjunction with occasional water testing. 

Proportional (based on bleed-off volume) 

Bleed-off, also known as blowdown, refers to the portion of water that is removed from the system and replaced with new water. This type of proportional dosing measures the flow of bleed-off and adds chemicals based on that flow to keep the levels consistent. 

Proportional (based on make-up water volume)  

Similar to bleed-off proportional dosing, this method uses sensors to measure the rate new water enters the system and adds chemicals to maintain a constant concentration. 

Sensor Controlled 

This method directly measures the concentration of chemicals in the cooling tower water and adjusts the input of dosing chemicals to maintain safe levels. 

Interested in Chemical Dosing for Your Cooling Tower? 

As expressed above, there are many ways to use chemicals in your cooling tower to increase efficiency. Depending on the issues you face, different chemicals and application methods may be more effective.  

Ecolink’s experts are industry professionals with a wide range of knowledge about the best chemical products. We’re happy to assist you in finding the right method for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us! 

Biocide for Water Cooling

Biocides for Water Cooling

Water is used often as a cheap, plentiful, and effective coolant in industrial settings. However, pumping large quantities through commercial equipment can often lead to the build-up of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms, particularly if the water comes from a natural source. 

To keep the system working efficiently and protect the health of the system and the people working with it, the water must be cleaned. Controlling the accumulation of organic material often comes down to the use of biocides for water cooling. 

Examples of BiocidesUsed in Water Cooling 

The most common method of controlling bacteria and other microorganism growth is through halogenation, which involves the introduction of chlorine or bromine. These compounds and their derivatives oxidize certain organic compounds, thus killing the organisms. However, other biocides used include: 

  • Chloramines 
  • Potassium Ferrate 
  • Ozone 
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 
  • Iodine 
  • Peracetic acid 
  • Ammonium 

These compounds may be administered individually or in a biocide mix designed for the specific conditions of certain water cooling systems. It is important to understand the organisms you are targeting, but also the materials your cooling system is made of in order to choose the right biocide and dosage. 

Why Is Biocide Needed? 

Without proper management, excess organisms can cause damage and reduce the efficiency of water cooling. Active microorganisms in coolant water can cause corrosion to occur, with organic chemicals eating away at the structure, which is a safety concern.  

Additionally, microorganisms can accumulate on the metal membranes that transfer heat, in a layer known as a biofilm. This coating, which is usually soft and squishy, acts as an insulator and prevents heat from moving between the metal and the water, just like how a kitchen towel prevents your hand from burning when removing a hot plate from the microwave. Removing the biofilm layer is important for effective heat transfer.  

Interested in Biocides for Water Cooling? 

Whether it be a pure oxidizing agent, or a specialized blend specifically designed for water cooling systems, Ecolink provides many industrial solutions. If you find yourself in need of biocides or are simply curious about how to best protect your water cooling system, please reach out to us today!