SpiroFlo analyzes the terms that make up the environmental world—the cliché, the misunderstood, and the “don’t tell your mama” variety—and how they play in today’s society. Today’s word was, up until recently, the dirty little secret of water. If you don’t know about biofilm, it’s time for a basic education about the little bacteria community that could (and unfortunately still can in places you don’t even want to think about). Fortunately, SpiroFlo has a solution.
Biofilm is a bacteria that grows wherever there is water. Like most bacteria, it has some good uses, but for the most part, biofilm is causing far more problems than it’s solving. You know that creepy film on your teeth when you wake up in the morning? That’s biofilm. The goopy, green stuff hanging from pipes — that’s biofilm. Most biofilm is too small to see without a microscope, but considering 80% of all chronic, recurring infections involve biofilm, what you can’t see can hurt you.
In the same way that we have those satellite cameras in space that can zoom down into your house to watch you eat Chef Boyardee in your underpants, there are micro cameras that can zoom down into various microbes. When these micro cameras have zoomed into biofilm, it looks like a slime city. Biofilm isn’t just easily treatable free-floating bacteria; it’s a community that sticks readily to any surface (heart valves, pipe, the inside of an opened water bottle, etc.). With a regenerative, sticky film, the biofilm is very tough to remove, and it protects the other bacteria inside. Biofilm also has polymer webs that allow it to concentrate nutrients and resist purification. A lot of this info comes from Andy Coghlan’s “Slime City” — which is some of the newest info we have about biofilm… and the article came out in 1996.
Welcome to Slime City
The biggest thing we’ve learned about biofilm over the last 15 years is that the problem is way worse than we thought. In addition to infecting hospitals and drinking water, biofilm shows up in the very (not-so-) sterile lines dentists use to rinse out your mouth. (My condolences if your six-month check-up is today.) Recently, however, it seems as though biofilms aren’t the closeted secret they were 10 years back, as the medical industry is finally starting to publicly acknowledge the severity of the problem. Even Listerine is getting in on the act, touting a commercial about how their mouthwash kills biofilm… well, at least for half a day.
Since I work with the water industry via SpiroFlo, I’ve mostly been focused on biofilm removal applications in residential drinking water and industrial water purification. The “solutions” for these applications were, up until recently, chlorine chemical treatments (which don’t work, so companies continually increase their concentration and frequency of use) and monochloramine treatments (which also don’t work, so companies continually increase their concentration and the frequency of use). At best, these treatments can slow the stretch of the sprawling problem, so it’s a little like trying to hogtie a millipede with dental floss. Thankfully the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has endorsed Sterilex as a chemical treatment that completely kills biofilm. Did I say a treatment? I meant to say it’s the only EPA-endorsed chemical treatment. So even though the government has a general rule about not endorsing any particular product, somehow there’s one lonely EPA-endorsed biofilm removal chemical. (My beef is with the faulty protocol, not the solution.*) Can you figure out what the problem with Sterilex is? You guessed it: As the one and only government-endorsed chemical solution to completely kill biofilm, Sterilex is incredibly expensive. It’s kind of hard to readily treat a widespread problem when the main solutions are ineffective or unaffordable.
So here’s where I get to toot my company’s horn: A large, multinational corporation recently completed an independent test regarding the SpiroFlo device’s ability to remove biofilm. This patented SpiroFlo device sets up a spiraling flow that travels around the boundary layer of a pipe — the area of the pipe that is often missed by even the best chemical treatments (and, of course, where biofilm loves to grow). With water alone (as in no chemical treatment), the SpiroFlo device took the biofilm from “too many to count” to less than 100 parts per million. (That’s one of those numbers that basically means: might as well be zero.) These biofilm still need to be neutralized or flushed out — otherwise those sticky suckers can reattach downstream — but since the bacteria is now free-floating, it is easily treated. One of the other benefits of the SpiroFlo device is that it helps keep chemical treatments suspended for longer, meaning that a company can use less chemicals and get the same result, especially as SpiroFlo scrapes the biofilm loose. As a result of these findings, this large multinational corporation has purchased SpiroFlo device for use in conjunction with Sterilex. More info is available on this page.
Here’s to having hidden solutions exposed as well.
*EDIT: Turns out the government protocol isn’t faulty, rather just so exhaustive that only Sterilex has gone through it. See here.
Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:
-SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).
-Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).
-Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.)
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