Biofouling, the accumulation and maturation of microbes which impede a system’s performance, represents a major challenge to industrial systems, costing governments and industry in excess of 5.7 Billion USD annually. Biofouling has been estimated to account for up to 30% of operational costs in some Seawater Reverse Osmosis Plants. Reverse osmosis membrane modules are closed systems which limit accessibility for biofouling monitoring. We developed an at-line sensor to assess the biofouling development at an early stage, using a rapid and sensitive fluorescence-based detection system relying on naturally produced extracellular enzymes to measure microbial abundance.
Babar Khan grew up in upstate New York, obtaining his B.S. (2008) and M.S. (2011) in Biology. Babar spent five years in Industry before joining KAUST in 2014 for his doctoral studies. He has co-authored 5 publications, 2 patents, and is actively commercializing the technology resulting from his Ph.D. Besides being a microbiologist investigating bacterial biofilm development, Babar has a passion for the Business of Science and participates in promoting entrepreneurship both locally and internationally.