Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.116, No.9, 2212-2222, 2019
New insights into developing antibiofouling surfaces for industrial photobioreactors
The biofouling formation of the marine microalga Nannochloropsis gaditana on nontoxic surfaces was quantified on rigid materials, both coated (with fouling release coatings and nanoparticle coatings) and noncoated, to cover a wide range of surface properties from strongly hydrophobic to markedly hydrophilic under conditions similar to those prevailing in outdoor massive cultures of marine microalgae. The effect of seawater on surfaces that presented the best antibiofouling properties was also evaluated. The adhesion intensity on the different surfaces was compared with the predictions of the biocompatibility theories developed by Baier and Vogler using water adhesion tension (tau(0)) as the quantitative parameter of surface wettability. For the most hydrophobic surfaces, tau(0) <= 0, the microalgae adhesion density increased linearly with tau(0), following the Baier's theory trend. However, for the rest of the surfaces, tau(0) >= 0, a tendency toward minimum adhesion was observed for amphiphilic surfaces with a tau(0) = 36 mJ/m(2), a value close to that which minimizes cell adhesion according to Vogler's theory. The understanding and combination of the two biocompatibility theories could help to design universal antibiofouling surfaces that minimize the van der Waals forces and prevent foulant adsorption by using a thin layer of hydration.