The Potential Role of Biofilms in Promoting Fouling Formation in Radioactive Discharge Pipelines

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Abstract

Nuclear facility discharge pipelines accumulate inorganic and microbial fouling and radioactive contamination, however, research investigating the mechanisms that lead to their accumulation is limited. Using the Sellafield discharge pipeline as a model system, this study utilised modified Robbins devices to investigate the potential interplay between inorganic and biological processes in supporting fouling formation and radionuclide uptake. Initial experiments showed polyelectrolytes (present in pipeline effluents), had minimal effects on fouling formation. Biofilms were, however, found to be the key component promoting fouling, leading to increased uptake of inorganic particulates and metal contaminants (Cs, Sr, Co, Eu and Ru) compared to a non-biofilm control system. Biologically-mediated uptake mechanisms were implicated in Co and Ru accumulation, with a potential bioreduced Ru species identified on the biofilm system. This research emphasised the key role of biofilms in promoting fouling in discharge pipelines, advocating for the use of biocide treatments methods.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiofouling
Volume39
Issue number8
Early online date25 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Biofouling
  • inorganic fouling
  • nuclear
  • radionuclide
  • immobilisation

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