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An elastomeric model biofilm system for assessing the effect of physico-mechanical properties of marine biofilms on drag

Time: Fri 2022-09-30 10.30 - 11.30

Participating: Alexandra Jackson (University of Southampton)

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Abstract: Biofilm presence on ship hulls can increase ship powering requirements by 18 % due to frictional drag. The physico-mechanical properties of biofilms are hypothesized to be significant in influencing marine drag yet remains a poorly studied area. To date, rigid and homogenous structures are often used as references for studying biofilm-associated drag, yet do not account for material compliance. In this talk, a synthetic biofilm model, with well-characterised mechanical and surface properties, for studying the relative contribution of viscoelasticity, roughness and heterogeneity on biofilm-associated drag will be presented. Using optical coherence tomography (OCT) in conjunction with a meso-scale flow cell to capture biofilm deformation and drag simultaneously will also be discussed. The final part of the seminar will look at validation of the model system, further applications, and future study. A better understanding of biofilm fluid-structure interactions and the contribution of biofilm compliance to drag could improve predictions of biofilm-associated drag, as well as inform of the development of future models and removal techniques.

Bio: I completed my Undergraduate (BSc) in Marine Biology at Newcastle University and went on to work for AkzoNobel within the fouling control team. I am now an engineering PhD Student at Southampton University, based within the national Centre for Advanced Tribology, and am industrially sponsored by AkzoNobel. My key research interests are in studying the physical structure and mechanical properties of biofilms and to understand how these properties interact with fluid flow and contribute to ship drag. Capturing marine biofilm viscoelasticity using imaging techniques is also of interest as is the use of artificial systems to study these topics.