The development of biofilms as habitats for microorganisms can be observed on virtually all natural and technical interfaces. Their existence plays an important role in many natural processes and has significant effects on technical systems. Besides the beneficial and useful application of biofilms in technical procedures their presence can lead to negative effects on the product quality or the function of technical instruments. A reliable model for the prediction of mechanical properties and structural development of biofilms is still not existent.
The objective of this research project is the development of an adaptive hybrid, FEM-based model for the description of physicochemical phenomena like mechanical stress of biofilms leading to abrasion and decisively influencing their structural development.
For the experimental validation of the adaptive hybrid concept methods of mechanical characterization are employed. Polymeric hydrogels serve as a model system for biofilms and are subjected to characterization procedures with and without immobilized cells to study the mechanical effect of microorganisms on the properties of the EPS network. The tests are to be carried out in a tubular flow reactor which enables the variation of process parameters in well-defined flow regimes.
The established methods are to be tested in a proof of principle with a pure culture of semi-quantitatively characterized EPS composition.