Marine and Industrial Biofouling

Volume 4 of the series Springer Series on Biofilms pp 135-163

Surface Modification Approach to Control Biofouling

  • T. VladkovaAffiliated withDepartment of Polymer Engineering, University for Chemical Technology and Metallurgy Email author 

There are three principal approaches to control biofouling: (1) mechanical detachment of biofoulers if possible; (2) killing or inactivation of biofouling organisms using antibiotics, biocides, cleaning chemicals, etc. and (3) surface modification turning the substrate material into a low-fouling or non-sticking (non-adhesive) one. Such modification usually alters the surface chemical composition and morphology, surface topography and roughness, the hydrophilic/hydrophobic balance, as well as the surface energy and polarity.

In marine applications especially, current non-toxic biofouling control strategies are based mainly on the third approach, i.e., on the idea of creating low-fouling or non-adhesive material surfaces, an approach that includes development of strongly hydrophilic “water-like” bioinert materials. Strongly hydrophobic low-energy surfaces are preferable in industrial and marine biofouling control because of their relative stability in aqueous media and reduced interactions with living cells.

This chapter presents a brief overview of some possibilities for biofouling control by surface engineering. A number of related ideas will be discussed in this chapter, including: (1) the use of protein adsorption as a mediator of bioadhesion and biofoul-ing, (2) physicochemical parameters influencing these phenomena, (3) theoretical aspects of cell/surface interactions, (4) some popular surface modification techniques, and (5) examples of successful biofouling control approaches.