Green armoured nanoparticles set to tackle invasive biofilms in industry
10 November 2015
University College Dublin (UCD) bioprocess engineering researchers have identified a new, cost-effective and environmental friendly method of removing unwanted biofilms from industrial scale surfaces.
Biofilms are structures of micro-organisms that strongly adhere to and cover surfaces, which are in contact with water, in a slimy layer.
In addition to the significant economic and environmental costs of removing biofilms, biofouling of industrial processing equipment by biofilms has been shown to account for increased operational costs associated with pipeline blockages. In some cases biofouling impedes heat transfer in heat exchangers, increases pressure drop in water circuits, increases pumping energy requirements as well as causing material deterioration through microbial induced corrosion.
While conventional biocides are effective in biofouling control, they are potentially hazardous to the environment and in some case corrosive to materials leading to a need of a more green strategy for biofilm control.
A team of researchers at UCD’s School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering have developed a novel technology that provides a platform for eco-friendly biofilm removal.
As outlined in their recently published paper their simple but intriguing idea was to develop a system having biofilm dispersion properties by coupling the gentle mechanical abrasion (like a brush) of small nano-particles or nano-beads with the natural chemical action of enzymes (like a soap) and to use these enzyme-coated nanoparticles to gently brush and clean biofilm grown on plastic surfaces.
Professor Eoin Casey, head, UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, and lead author said: “The results of our study demonstrate that enzyme-functionalised nano-beads may potentially pave the way for the identification of a new family of non-corrosive and environmentally friendly anti-biofilm and anti-fouling agents.
“Our study opens up a promising approach for the synthesis of a wide range of similar derivatives bearing similar anti-bacterial activity, in which their ease of recovery, coupled with the re-useable properties would enable the more cost effective use of enzyme-based cleaning operations in industry.”
Dr Jessica Amadio, a postdoctoral researcher in the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, who started working on this study in 2013 said: “Our first and foremost concern was to address the use of harsh chemicals to remove biofilms. It has been extremely rewarding to work on a study which has developed green solutions to address the issue of industrial scale biofilms. Our next step is to seek funding to enable us to bring our technology closer to the market.”
The research was supported by Science Foundation Ireland under the Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme with additional support provided by the European Research Council funded under the EU Seventh Framework Programme.
A priority patent application for the technology has been filed through UCD’s technology transfer team based at NovaUCD.
The paper entitled’ ‘Antifouling Activity of Enzyme-Functionalised Silica Nanobeads’ by Michele Zanoni, Olivier Habimana, Jessica Amadio and Eoin Casey, was published as an open access article in the Journal of Biotechnology and Bioengineering.
The paper is available to download via: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bit.25835/fullhttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/2015/11/10/green-armoured-nanoparticles-set-to-tackle-invasive-biofilms-in-industry/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/aaanews.pnghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/aaanews-300x252.pngNewsenergy,NovaUCD,UCD