We provide tailor-made concepts to measure, understand and control microbes and their interactions in materials and industrial processes.
In industrial systems, attached microbes build up multispecies communities embedded in a slimy layer, also know as biofilms. The main challenges associated with microbial biofilms in industry include process disruptions, equipment damage due to microbially induced corrosion, clogging of pipes and membranes, increased energy consumption, decreased heat transfer and impaired quality of end products. In addition, in the food and beverage industry, biofilms may reduce the shelf life of the products or even transfer pathogens. However, if properly controlled, active biofilms can be utilised in a variety of bioprocesses: waste and water treatments, bioremediation of hazardous substances and bioleaching of minerals.
Kemira, a provider of chemical combinations for water-intensive industries, leveraged VTT’s expertise in microbiology so as to develop control strategies for microbial biofilms in oilfield applications. Using biofilm testing and molecular profiling tools, VTT identified uncultured microbes, enabling the targeted development of biocides for oil wells.
“VTT’s performance was professional, flexible and reliable. VTT’s novel tools revealed the true complexity of oilfield-associated microbial communities.” Marko Kolari, R&D Manager at Kemira
Biofilm expertise at VTT
We provide several conventional microbiological methods and novel molecular approaches in order to detect and identify microbial community dynamics.
We also provide concepts and testing facilities to study the behaviour, activity and management of microbial biofilms on organic surfaces (in biological material) and in process environment. We have know-how on the deterioration mechanisms of materials. Our international biological resource centre VTT Culture collection (VTTCC) has a wide collection of industrially relevant biofilm organisms. Our specific areas of expertise include strictly anaerobic microbes and harmful fungi including yeasts and moulds. Our expertise in physiology and safety of seed germination meets the current trend in sprouting.
We help to identify microbial spoilage and safety risks. We also tailor training sessions for industrial personnel.
Our aim is to help our customers develop technologies that restrict the growth of unwanted microbes. We help our customers to built up safe processing environment.
Current research has focused on:
- Industrial process surveys and tracking contamination routes
- Biofilms and novel functional surfaces
- Understanding and control of microbial communication (quorum sensing)
- Biofilm prevention and detachment
- Active biofilms in bioprocessing and bioleaching
VTT’s comprehensive microbial characterisation tools and biofilm pilot facilities
We provide selective culture methods for industrially relevant microbial groups such as aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, yeasts and moulds.We have up-to-date DNA- and RNA-based molecular tools for identification, microbial community profiling and functional activities.
We provide visualisation with novel microscopic techniques.´
We have excellent aerobic and anaerobic biofilm laboratory model systems. We also provide biofilm pilot facilities to study the impacts of surface materials, washing chemicals, biocides and physical control means on biofilm formation. VTT Culture Collection (VTTCC) is a fast developing internationally recognised microbial collection that provides strains and identification services for food, beverage and biotechnological sectors worldwide.
We are active in international research and industrial networks such as:
- ECCO (European Culture Collections' Organisation)
- WFCC (World Federation for Culture Collections; WDCM number 139)
- EBC (European Brewing Convention) Analysis Committee and Brewing Science group
- R3-Nordic Contamination control society
- MoniQA association
- European Hygienic Engineering and Desing Group
Currently, we are working with the food, beverage and malting industry, pulp and paper mills, water-intensive processing industry, companies providing machninery and equipments in order to process industry, chemical and biocide producers, public authority and hospitals.