Anti-Microbial Properties of Cellulose Nanofibrils

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Abstract Summary

In marine applications, the undesirable attachment and accumulation of bacteria, diatoms, algae and invertebrates on submerged structures is known as biofouling. This phenomenon promotes the spread of invasive species and causes increased hydrodynamic drag on ships, resulting in lower speed and higher fuel consumption. Current technologies to combat biofouling include toxic surface coatings or the use of inefficient hull-cleaning processes. In this work, we investigated the anti-microbial properties of cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) as a non-toxic alternative to current anti-biofouling (AF) marine surface coatings which could promote the development of the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET). During the process of gathering preliminary data, it was observed that heat-treated CNF (hCNF) would support visible microbial growth while untreated CNF did not. To investigate this phenomenon, a series of experiments were performed in which samples of hCNF and untreated CNF were subjected to various pre-treatments. After 20 hours of air exposure, the number of visible microbial colonies that formed on the surface of each sample were counted and compared. In every experiment, no microbial growth was exhibited by the untreated CNF, while clear microbial growth was observed on hCNF. Although studies are ongoing, these results suggest that CNF may prove useful in the creation of new non-toxic AF materials which can be treated to biodegrade on-demand, helping to solve the problems associated with biofouling in marine as well as other settings.

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Engineering & Information Sciences
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