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Journal Articles Water Research Year : 2014

Drinking water biofilm cohesiveness changes under chlorination or hydrodynamic stress


Attempts at removal of drinking water biofilms rely on various preventive and curative strategies such as nutrient reduction in drinking water, disinfection or water flushing, which have demonstrated limited efficiency. The main reason for these failures is the cohesiveness of the biofilm driven by the physico-chemical properties of its exopolymeric matrix (EPS). Effective cleaning procedures should break up the matrix and/or change the elastic properties of bacterial biofilms. The aim of this study was to evaluate the change in the cohesive strength of two-month-old drinking water biofilms under increasing hydrodynamic shear stress τw (from ∼0.2 to ∼10 Pa) and shock chlorination (applied concentration at T0: 10 mg Cl2/L; 60 min contact time). Biofilm erosion (cell loss per unit surface area) and cohesiveness (changes in the detachment shear stress and cluster volumes measured by atomic force microscopy (AFM)) were studied. When rapidly increasing the hydrodynamic constraint, biofilm removal was found to be dependent on a dual process of erosion and coalescence of the biofilm clusters. Indeed, 56% of the biofilm cells were removed with, concomitantly, a decrease in the number of the 50–300 μm3 clusters and an increase in the number of the smaller (i.e., <50 μm3) and larger (i.e., >600 μm3) ones. Moreover, \AFM\ evidenced the strengthening of the biofilm structure along with the doubling of the number of contact points, NC, per cluster volume unit following the hydrodynamic disturbance. This suggests that the compactness of the biofilm exopolymers increases with hydrodynamic stress. Shock chlorination removed cells (−75%) from the biofilm while reducing the volume of biofilm clusters. Oxidation stress resulted in a decrease in the cohesive strength profile of the remaining drinking water biofilms linked to a reduction in the number of contact points within the biofilm network structure in particular for the largest biofilm cluster volumes (>200 μm3). Changes in the cohesive strength of drinking water biofilms subsequent to cleaning/disinfection operations call into question the effectiveness of cleaning-in-place procedures. The combined alternating use of oxidation and shear stress sequences needs to be investigated as it could be an important adjunct to improving biofilm removal/reduction procedures.
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Dates and versions

hal-01425202 , version 1 (03-01-2017)



Laurence Mathieu, I. Bertrand, Y. Abe, E. Angel, J.C. Block, et al.. Drinking water biofilm cohesiveness changes under chlorination or hydrodynamic stress. Water Research, 2014, 55, pp.175 - 184. ⟨10.1016/j.watres.2014.01.054⟩. ⟨hal-01425202⟩
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