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Engineering  |  Barzin Mobasher

Algae-Resistant Cements

Algae are among the most abundant and prolific microorganisms found in water bodies in the regions with sufficient sunlight and nutrients (nitrates and phosphorous).  Growth of algae is quite common in irrigation canals that transport water to utilities, making it difficult for the water utilities to provide drinking water that is un affected by algae and their byproducts.  In addition to reduced flow rate in channels, algal growth results in the release of undesirable taste and odor compounds and bio-toxins into the water.

The main potential areas of application for new cement composite systems involve the lining of canal surfaces where fixed-surface biocides are desirable to control biofouling. The germicidal effectiveness of various additives when blended within a microstructure of a cement based system were studied. The relationship between the chemical and physical characteristics of concrete surfaces and their ability to have an enhanced resistance to algal growth is documented through a novel set of laboratory and field testing.

Succession of algal biofilm growth on samples incubated in Arizona canal:

  • specimens prior to placement

  • specimen indicating algae growth after two months of field exposure

  1. Alum, A., Rashid, A., Mobasher, B., and Abbaszadegan, M., “Cement-Based Biocide Coatings for Controlling Algal Growth in Water Distribution Canals”, Journal of Cement and Concrete Composites, Vol 30, No 9, pp 839-847, 2008. [download] 
  2. Alum, A., Rashid, A., Mobasher, B., and Abbaszadegan, M., “A Non-Disruptive Method to Quantify Algal Growth on Concrete Surfaces”, ASCE Journal of Environmental Engineering, Journal of Environmental Engineering, Vol. 135, No. 3, March 1, 2009.  DOI: 10.1061/_ASCE_0733-9372_2009_135:3_185_  [download]