Uncovering the mechanisms that control biofilm hydraulic resistance
Biofouling has adverse effects on membrane systems, hindering the scalability of cheap, decentralised filtration systems such as gravity-driven membranes. The hydraulic resistance of the biofouling layer is primarily controlled by a biofilm, where the microbial communities are embedded in a self-secreted extracellular polymeric matrix (EPS), a structure akin to a colloidal gel. Experiments have shown that biofilm hydraulic resistance varies with hydrostatic pressure. Understanding how hydrostatic pressure shapes the EPS composition, spatial distribution and production of biofilm structures is crucial to reducing biofilm hydraulic resistance. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the MicroBioMem project will develop a microfluidic platform embedded in a cryogel membrane barrier to thoroughly monitor membrane-bound biofilm development and hydraulic resistance under different hydrostatic pressures.