Industrial cooling water fouling by Dreissenidae

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Together with the cooling water, a wide range of living organisms is entrained into cooling water systems, which can readily colonise the available surfaces in the system. Growth conditions in the cooling water system often are ideal for sessile organisms: the steady water flow assures abundance of nutrients and oxygen, while access for predators is limited. The consequence of this is that substantial ‘biofouling’ may take place inside the cooling water system. Biofouling may cause restriction of the cooling water flow, blockage of heat exchangers, increased rates of corrosion and loss of heat transfer. All these have negative environmental and economical consequences. Biological fouling in cooling water systems is a worldwide problem in all water types. For fresh water cooling water systems the best known fouling species is the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha. This invasive species has spread over and between continents and invaded many industrialised regions, with large scale operational and economical consequences for power plants and other industries. The objective of the present chapter was to describe zebra mussel fouling in industrial cooling water systems along with possible control measures.

Fouling of cooling water systems can be divided in four rather different directions: biological fouling inside the cooling water system by settlement of sessile micro- and macro-organisms; clogging problems by ingress of fishes, jelly fishes or weeds; chemical fouling by scaling and sedimentation inside the system; fouling by the generic term of trash (e.g. timber, plastic) which plays a role in the blockage of the intake (trash racks and band screens). Fouling in cooling water systems of power plants and other large industrial installations is of significance with respect to daily system operation reliability and efficiency, safety and system components integrity. Fouling, either by macro- or microfouling, may lead to severe operational problems, leading to high maintenance costs as well as costly outages. However, cooling water systems are continuously exposed to the chemical conditions of the surface water as well as the many larvae of fouling organisms that are present in the surface water during their breeding season. In addition, cooling water system conditions provide an optimal environment for many fouling species to settle and develop into large populations. Clearly, the types of fouling species are dependent on the geographical location of the power station and on the salinity and quality of the surface water.

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