Sacrificial coating development for biofouling control in membrane systems

Maria F. Nava Ocampo, Szilard Bucs, Andreia S.F. Farinha, Moon Son, Bruce E. Logan, Johannes S. Vrouwenvelder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Current cleaning strategies for biofouling control on spiral wound membrane systems used for seawater desalination are not effective and can hinder long-term membrane performance. To enable effective cleaning of a membrane, we examined the in-situ application and the use of a sacrificial multilayer polyelectrolyte coating on the membrane surface. The membrane coating was based on a layer-by-layer assembly approach using two non-toxic linkers, poly (diallyl-dimethyl ammonium chloride) and poly(sodium-4-styrene sulfonate). This polyelectrolyte coating was effectively applied on the membrane surface under cross-flow conditions, and it was stable on the membrane surface under continuous operation. Coating removal requires only a concentrated sodium chloride solution (synthetic brine in our study) adjusted to pH 11. Using this procedure, both the biofilm and the sacrificial layer could be simultaneously removed, leaving a clean surface compared to the non-coated membrane. Biofouling tests showed that the coated membrane had two-fold higher permeate flux recovery than the control non-coated membrane. The used polyelectrolyte sacrificial coatings avoided the use of toxic linkers and harsh cleaning chemicals, and thus it is a suitable technique for biofouling control on reverse osmosis spiral wound membranes.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114650
StatePublished - Aug 28 2020

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors thank King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for funding this research project. Graphical abstract was produced by Xavier Pita, scientific illustrator at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).


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