Low voltage electric potential as a driving force to hinder biofouling in self-supporting carbon nanotube membranes

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Water Research, 2018, 129 pp. 143 - 153
Issue Date:
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd This study aimed at evaluating the contribution of low voltage electric field, both alternating (AC) and direct (DC) currents, on the prevention of bacterial attachment and cell inactivation to highly electrically conductive self-supporting carbon nanotubes (CNT) membranes at conditions which encourage biofilm formation. A mutant strain of Pseudomonas putida S12 was used a model bacterium and either capacitive or resistive electrical circuits and two flow regimes, flow-through and cross-flow filtration, were studied. Major emphasis was placed on AC due to its ability of repulsing and inactivating bacteria. AC voltage at 1.5 V, 1 kHz frequency and wave pulse above offset (+0.45) with 100Ω external resistance on the ground side prevented almost completely attachment of bacteria (>98.5%) with concomitant high inactivation (95.3 ± 2.5%) in flow-through regime. AC resulted more effective than DC, both in terms of biofouling reduction compared to cathodic DC and in terms of cell inactivation compared to anodic DC. Although similar trends were observed, a net reduced extent of prevention of bacterial attachment and inactivation was observed in filtration as compared to flow-through regime, which is mainly attributed to the permeate drag force, also supported by theoretical calculations in DC in capacitive mode. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy analysis suggests a pure resistor behavior in resistance mode compared to involvement of redox reactions in capacitance mode, as source for bacteria detachment and inactivation. Although further optimization is required, electrically polarized CNT membranes offer a viable antibiofouling strategy to hinder biofouling and simplify membrane care during filtration.
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