Hydrogel-coated feed spacers in two-phase flow cleaning in spiral wound membrane elements: A novel platform for eco-friendly biofouling mitigation

Y. Wibisono, Wetra Yandi, Mohsen Golabi, Roni Nugraha, Emile R. Cornelissen, Antonius J.B. Kemperman, Thomas Ederth, Dorothea C. Nijmeijer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Biofouling is still a major challenge in the application of nanofiltration and reverse osmosis membranes. Here we present a platform approach for environmentally friendly biofouling control using a combination of a hydrogel-coated feed spacer and two-phase flow cleaning. Neutral (polyHEMA-co-PEG10MA), cationic (polyDMAEMA) and anionic (polySPMA) hydrogels have been successfully grafted onto polypropylene (PP) feed spacers via plasma-mediated UV-polymerization. These coatings maintained their chemical stability after 7 days incubation in neutral (pH 7), acidic (pH 5) and basic (pH 9) environments. Anti-biofouling properties of these coatings were evaluated by Escherichia coli attachment assay and nanofiltration experiments at a TMP of 600 kPag using tap water with additional nutrients as feed and by using optical coherence tomography. Especially the anionic polySPMA-coated PP feed spacer shows reduced attachment of E. coli and biofouling in the spacer-filled narrow channels resulting in delayed biofilm growth. Employing this highly hydrophilic coating during removal of biofouling by two-phase flow cleaning also showed enhanced cleaning efficiency, feed channel pressure drop and flux recoveries. The strong hydrophilic nature and the presence of negative charge on polySPMA are most probably responsible for the improved antifouling behavior. A combination of polySPMA-coated PP feed spacers and two-phase flow cleaning therefore is promising and an environmentally friendly approach to control biofouling in NF/RO systems employing spiral-wound membrane modules
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-186
JournalWater research
Volume71
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • METIS-311939
  • IR-97357

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