Measuring and improving water quality
Continue Biofilm Monitor in full operation
In 2013, KWR sets up the Continue Biofilm Monitor (CBM) at a large number of locations. Biofilm formation is one of the parameters that reflect the biological stability of water: the degree to which the water supports microbial growth. The CBM can be employed in the treatment and distribution of drinking water, but in other sectors as well. During 2013 the CBM is being further optimised.
The CBM has been developed by KWR researchers working closely with the water companies within the framework of the water sector’s joint research programme (BTO). The installation consists of four columns with glass beads, through which water flows continuously. Micro-organisms attach themselves to the glass beads and extract nutrients from the water, leading to the formation of a slime coating (biofilm) with micro-organisms on the glass beads. Every two weeks, two columns are replaced by new columns, and the amount of active biomass with micro-organisms on the removed glass beads is measured. The CBM is set up at different locations in the drinking water treatment and distribution systems, so that the amount of biomass accumulated on the glass beads, as a result of biofilm formation and attachment, can be determined, from source to tap.
With the CBM results water companies can optimise their processes
27 monitors at various locations
In 2013, three water companies set up the CBM at their production locations. In total, 27 monitors are set up, providing the basis for KWR researchers to draw conclusions about biofilm formation and the biological stability of the water. The water companies can optimise their processes using the results of the research projects. A fourth water company has also begun a project employing the CBM.
Further CBM development and other methods
The improved CBM design involves using, apart from the columns with glass beads, columns containing glass rods. In the columns with the glass rods, apart from the biofilm formation no biomass attachment occurs – as it does in the columns with glass beads – which distinguishes the two processes.
Other parameters also determine the biological stability of water. Researchers therefore are developing other methods besides the CBM, such as a method to determine the concentration of degradable polymers in drinking water. In 2013, Eveline Sack, a former KWR staff member, publishes an article on the subject in Applied & Environmental Microbiology.
Biological stability in Watershare®
The monitoring of biofilm formation is also an important component in BIOSTAB, the new Watershare® tool. With BIOSTAB, knowledge institutes all over the world can discover how to organise water treatment in such a way as to produce biologically stable drinking water.
© 2017 KWR Watercycle Research Institute
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Paul van der Wielen
Senior scientific researcher