Semi-circular flow cells are often used to simulate the formation of biofilms in industrial pipes with circular section because their planar surface allows easy sampling using coupons. Computational fluid dynamics was used to assess whether the flow in pipe systems can be emulated by the semi-circular flow cells that are used to study biofilm formation. The results show that this is the case for Reynolds numbers (Re) ranging from 10 to 1000 and 3500 to 10,000. A correspondence involving the friction factor was obtained in order to correlate any semi-circular flow cell to any circular pipe for Re between 10 and 100,000. The semi-circular flow cell was then used to assess experimentally the effect of Reynolds number (Re=4350 and 6720) on planktonic cell concentration and biofilm formation using Escherichia coli JM109 (DE3). Lower planktonic cell concentrations and thicker biofilms (>1.2mm) were obtained with the lower Re.
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