Any advanced anti-fouling strategy must be based on early warning systems which allow for timely, precisely directed and optimized countermeasures. Such systems must be able to detect biofilm growth on representative surfaces. In order to meet this requirement, a fibre optical device (FOS) has been developed. It is based on light which is scattered by objects deposited on the tip of an optical fibre. A receiving fibre collects the signal and forwards it to a detection and quantification unit. Both the sending and the receiving fibre are mounted in a measuring head which is integrated evenly on the inner surface of a water pipeline at representative sites. This device was applied to a water system of a brewery in order to put its reliability to test under practical conditions. The FOS detected the build-up of a deposit which was identified independently as consisting of microorganisms, i.e., a biofilm. A stable, well detectable and reproducible signal could be obtained above a colonization of 105 cells cm−2. Adjustment of the sensitivity of the amplifier allowed for detection of biofilms up to 1010 cells cm−2. Cleaning countermeasures could be detected clearly by a decrease of backscattered light intensity. The system proved to be suitable for on-line, non-destructive, real-time and automatic monitoring for a period of almost two years, and thus, provides an important constituent for an advanced anti-fouling strategy.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.