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Biofilms are collections of living and dead cells that are enclosed in an extracellular polymeric substance matrix secreted by living organisms. Biofilms can significantly decrease the heat transfer capabilities at surfaces as the biofilm acts as an insulating layer. Biofilms can also create highly localized chemical effects that lead to microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).

MIC is a localized corrosion phenomenon occurring as the result of the chemical and electrochemical differences that are created by the presence or metabolic activity of bacteria. Localized penetrations of materials including carbon and low alloy steels, copper alloys, and stainless steels can occur very rapidly, at rates one or more orders of magnitude higher than typical general corrosion rates. At the interface between biofilm and a metal under MIC attack, metabolic activity can create a presence of corrosion causing contaminants that is highly concentrated and a pH much lower compared to that of the bulk fluid in a system.

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