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Chemical Engineering Journal
Volume 418, 2021, 129348

Overview on the hydrodynamic conditions found in industrial systems and its impact in (bio)fouling formation

Susana Fernandesa, Inês B. Gomesa, Lúcia C. Simõesb, Manuel Simõesa

LEPABE - Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy, Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal.


Biofouling is the unwanted accumulation of deposits on surfaces, composed by organic and inorganic particles and (micro)organisms. Its occurrence in industrial equipment is responsible for several drawbacks related to operation and maintenance costs, reduction of process safety and product quality, and putative outbreaks of pathogens. The understanding on the role of operating conditions in biofouling development highlights the hydrodynamic conditions as key parameter. In general, (bio)fouling occurs in a higher extension when laminar flow conditions are used. However, the characteristics and resilience of biofouling are highly dependent on the hydrodynamic conditions under which it is developed, with turbulent conditions being associated to recalcitrant biodeposits. In industrial settings like heat exchangers, fluid distribution networks and stirred tanks, hydrodynamics plays a dual function, affecting the process effectiveness while favouring biofouling formation. This review summarizes the hydrodynamics played in conventional industrial settings and provides an overview on the relevance of hydrodynamic conditions in biofouling development as well as in the effectiveness of industrial processes.

Keywords: Distribution network, Biofouling, Heat exchanger, Reynolds number, Shear stress, Stirrer tank.

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