An environmentally-friendly method for preventing and affecting biofilm of bacteria and fungi was introduced last week at Israel’s WATEC Conference by Yissum Research Development Company, the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The novel compounds will be used as a coating on pipes, filters, membranes, air conditioning ducts and other surfaces in contact with water prone to formation of biofilms. (A biofilm is a structured community of microorganisms composed of algae, fungi or bacteria that attaches to surfaces that are bathed with liquids.)

The invention utilizes heterocyclic compounds that disrupt cell-cell communication, thereby interfering with the formation of biofilms. Unlike antibiotics, which often induce formation of resistant strains, these compounds do not need to kill the microorganisms that cause the biofilms.

Biofilm-related problems cost industry tens of billions of dollars annually by corroding pipes, reducing heat transfer or hydraulic pressure in industrial cooling systems, plugging water injection jets and clogging water filters and pipes.

The new invention can be used for industrial water treatment, prevention of biofilm formation on filtration membranes, paints and coatings, irrigation pipelines, swimming pools and for household cleaning. It will also lower desalination and water recycling costs by reducing energy consumption due to corroded or clogged pipes.