Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
  • Publication
    A physical impact of organic fouling layers on bacterial adhesion during nanofiltration
    Organic conditioning films have been shown to alter properties of surfaces, such as hydrophobicity and surface free energy. Furthermore, initial bacterial adhesion has been shown to depend on the conditioning film surface properties as opposed to the properties of the virgin surface. For the particular case of nanofiltration membranes under permeate flux conditions, however, the conditioning film thickens to form a thin fouling layer. This study hence sought to determine if a thin fouling layer deposited on a nanofiltration membrane under permeate flux conditions governed bacterial adhesion in the same manner as a conditioning film on a surface. Thin fouling layers (less than 50 μm thick) of humic acid or alginic acid were formed on Dow Filmtec NF90 membranes and analysed using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), confocal microscopy and surface energy techniques. Fluorescent microscopy was then used to quantify adhesion of Pseudomonas fluorescens bacterial cells onto virgin or fouled membranes under filtration conditions.It was found that instead of adhering on or into the organic fouling layer, the bacterial cells penetrated the thin fouling layer and adhered directly to the membrane surface underneath. Contrary to what surface energy measurements of the fouling layer would indicate, bacteria adhered to a greater extent onto clean membranes (24 ± 3% surface coverage) than onto those fouled with humic acid (9.8 ± 4%) or alginic acid (7.5 ± 4%). These results were confirmed by AFM measurements which indicated that a considerable amount of energy (10−7 J/μm) was dissipated when attempting to penetrate the fouling layers compared to adhering onto clean NF90 membranes (10−15 J/μm). The added resistance of this fouling layer was thusly seen to reduce the number of bacterial cells which could reach the membrane surface under permeate conditions. This research has highlighted an important difference between fouling layers for the particular case of nanofiltration membranes under permeate flux conditions and surface conditioning films which should be considered when conducting adhesion experiments under filtration conditions. It has also shown AFM to be an integral tool for such experiments.
      331Scopus© Citations 20
  • Publication
    Nanofiltration and reverse osmosis surface topographical heterogeneities: do they matter for initial bacterial adhesion?
    The role of the physicochemical and surface properties of NF/RO membranes influencing bacterial adhesion has been widely studied. However, there exists a poor understanding of the potential role membrane topographical heterogeneities can have on bacterial adhesion. Heterogeneities on material surfaces have been shown to influence bacterial adhesion and biofilm development. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate whether the presence of membrane topographical heterogeneities had a significant role during bacterial adhesion as this could significantly impact on how biofouling develops on membranes during NF/RO operation. An extensive study was devised in which surface topographical heterogeneities from two commercial membranes, NF270 and BW30, were assessed for their role in the adhesion of two model organisms of different geometrical shapes, Pseudomonas fluorescens and Staphylococcus epidermidis. The influence of cross-flow velocity and permeate flux was also tested, as well as the angle to which bacteria adhered compared to the flow direction. Bacterial adhesion onto the membranes and in their surface topographical heterogeneities was assessed using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), fluorescence microscopy and image analysis. Results showed that up to 30% of total adhered cells were found in membrane defect areas when defect areas only covered up to 13% of the membrane surface area. This suggests that topographical heterogeneities may play a significant role in establishing environmental niches during the early stages of biofilm development. Furthermore, no noticeable difference between the angle of cell attachment in defect areas compared to the rest of the membrane surface was found.
      386Scopus© Citations 16
  • Publication
    Nanofiltration-induced cell death: An integral perspective of early stage biofouling under permeate flux conditions
    The performance of pressure-driven membrane filtration processes for water treatment is hampered by biofouling. A relevant, but often overlooked aspect of this phenomenon concerns the localized microenvironment at the membrane interface. A key question is the level of stress on adhering cells and how this impacts on the developing biofilm. In this study, Pseudomonas fluorescens biofilms were monitored after 1, 2 and 7-day cross-flow nanofiltration experiments using confocal microscopy with live/dead staining which enabled analysis of both biofilm structure and the spatial localization of dead versus live cells. A significant increased level of biomass at low- compared to high-flux conditions (2-day experiments) suggested hindrance of bacterial proliferation at higher fluxes. An increase in live cell fractions was generally observed between 24- and 48-h at low flux conditions (3 bar), while the fraction of dead/injured cells remained constant during that same period. At higher flux conditions (15 bar), the volume of live cell fractions remained constant over 24- and 48-h experiments. The implications of these findings point to the need to reevaluate classical contact-killing strategy for controlling membrane fouling; initial membrane fouling events are characterized by an initially-induced cell death stage followed by an adaptation period through which surviving cells are able to acclimatize in their respective environments. This study emphasizes the need to better understand the role of operating parameters and its resulting cell death during early stage fouling. It is in this context that fouling management strategies can be further developed.
      5Scopus© Citations 6