Biofilms exist and thrive within drinking water distribution networks, and can present human health concerns. Exposure of simulated drinking water biofilms, grown from groundwater, to a 9 × 9 array of microchannel plasma jets has the effect of severely eroding the biofilm and deactivating the organisms they harbor. In-situ measurements of biofilm structure and thickness with an optical coherence tomography (OCT) system show the biofilm thickness to fall from 122 ± 17 µm to 55 ± 13 µm after 15 min. of exposure of the biofilm to the microplasma column array, when the plasmas are dissipating a power density of 58 W/cm2. All biofilms investigated vanish with 20 min. of exposure. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) demonstrates that the number of living cells in the biofilms declines by more than 93% with 15 min. of biofilm exposure to the plasma arrays. Concentrations of several oxygen-bearing species, generated by the plasma array, were found to be 0.4–21 nM/s for the hydroxyl radical (OH), 85–396 nM/s for the 1O2 excited molecule, 98–280 µM for H2O2, and 24–42 µM for O3 when the power density delivered to the array was varied between 3.6 W/cm2 and 79 W/cm2. The data presented here demonstrate the potential of microplasma arrays as a tool for controlling, through non-thermal disruption and removal, mixed-species biofilms prevalent in commercial and residential water systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology