Biofilms, a porous matrix of cells aggregated with extracellular polymeric substances under the influence of chemical constituents in the feed water, can develop a viscoelastic response to mechanical stresses. In this study, the roles of phosphate and silicate, common additives in corrosion control and meat processing, on the stiffness, viscoelasticity, porous structure networks, and chemical properties of biofilm were investigated. Three-year biofilms on PVC coupons were grown from sand-filtered groundwater with or without one of the non-nutrient (silicate) or nutrient additives (phosphate or phosphate blends). Compared with non-nutrient additives, the phosphate and phosphate-blend additives led to a biofilm with the lowest stiffness, most viscoelastic, and more porous structure, including more connecting throats with greater equivalent radii. The phosphate-based additives also led to more organic species in the biofilm matrix than the silicate additive did. This work demonstrated that nutrient additives could promote biomass accumulation but also reduce mechanical stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-46
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • Drinking water biofilms
  • corrosion inhibitors
  • mechanical properties
  • stiffness
  • viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of phosphate and silicate on stiffness and viscoelasticity of mature biofilms developed with simulated drinking water'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this