Field: Physical chemistry / material sciences / mechanical engineering
The project is part of a PhD project from the biofouling theme of Wetsus and will take place at PCC in Wageningen.
Biofouling occurs when microorganisms start accumulating and growing on surfaces. For protection and fixation reasons they surround themselves with a slimy layer of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), containing all kinds of polysaccharides, proteins, cell fragments, inorganic particles, etc. This is especially unwanted on membranes as they are commonly used e.g. in (drinking) water treatment. The more biofouling reduces the water flux through the membrane the less economic the process becomes and a lot of effort is put in cleaning.
For the development of smart cleaning strategies the target needs to be known. In addition to the bacterial communities this target contains the physical structure and chemical composition of biofilms, which determine their strength and resistance against cleaning.