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Bacterial Respiration Used as a Proxy to Evaluate the Bacterial Load in Cooling Towers

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Evaporative cooling towers to dissipate excess process heat are essential installations in a variety of industries. The constantly moist environment enables substantial microbial growth, causing both operative challenges (e.g., biocorrosion) as well as health risks due to the potential aerosolization of pathogens. Currently, bacterial levels are monitored using rather slow and infrequent sampling and cultivation approaches. In this study, we describe the use of metabolic activity, namely oxygen respiration, as an alternative measure of bacterial load within cooling tower waters. This method is based on optical oxygen sensors that enable an accurate measurement of oxygen consumption within a closed volume. We show that oxygen consumption correlates with currently used cultivation‐based methods (R2 = 0.9648). The limit of detection (LOD) for respiration‐based bacterial quantification was found to be equal to 1.16 × 104 colony forming units (CFU)/mL. Contrary to the cultivation method, this approach enables faster assessment of the bacterial load with a measurement time of just 30 min compared to 48 h needed for cultivation‐based measurements. Furthermore, this approach has the potential to be integrated and automated. Therefore, this method could contribute to more robust and reliable monitoring of bacterial contamination within cooling towers and subsequently increase operational stability and reduce health risks.

Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2020

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