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Water Science & Technology Vol 55 No 8-9 pp 191–195 © IWA Publishing 2007 doi:10.2166/wst.2007.258

Biofilm growth in response to various concentrations of biodegradable material in drinking water

Gabriela Schaule*, Dania Moschnitschka*, Simone Schulte*, Adriana Tamachkiarow** and Hans-Curt Flemming*,***

*IWW Centre for Water, Moritzstr. 26, D-45476 , Mülheim, Germany (E-mail: g.schaule@iww-online.de)
**Onvida GmbH, Vinckeweg 26, D-47119 Duisburg
***Biofilm Centre, University of Duisburg-Essen, Geibelstr. 41, D-47057 , Duisburg, Germany


Biological stability is one of the most important aspects of safe drinking water. It depends crucially on the availability of biodegradable organic carbon (BDOC). Measurement of BDOC is time-consuming and only performed if an increase is suspected. In this study, a fibre optical sensor (FOS) was used to detect changes in BDOC, detected as an increase in biofilm growth. The FOS consists of a sending and a receiving optical fibre, the latter connected to a detector. When material is deposited at the tip of the fibre, an increase of backscattered light is detected. In a system fed with drinking water, the signal was correlated to biofilm growth which was confirmed by independent surface colonisation determination. When 1 and 3 mg L-1 of BDOC respectively was added, the increment of the FOS signal over a period of 1 week could be distinguished. Interference by planktonic components and humic substances could be excluded. The biofilm on the FOS could be used as a means to detect changes in BDOC in drinking water and the signal has an early warning capacity.

Keywords: Biofilm; biostability; drinking water; early warning; sensor

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