Ultrafiltration membranes functionalized with lipophilic bismuth dimercaptopropanol nanoparticles: Anti-fouling behavior and mechanisms

Mengfei Li, Jason C. Bradley, Appala Raju Badireddy, Huijie Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The antifouling efficiency and mechanisms of a novel membrane surface modification strategy, namely lipophilic bismuth dimercaptopropanol nanoparticle (BisBAL-NP) coating, were evaluated by using a lab-scale nitrification membrane bioreactor. Filtration performance, bismuth leaching, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) composition, microbial community structure and function were compared for the control and BisBAL-NP coated ultrafiltration membranes. The coated membrane resulted in up to 17.5% higher flux, 33.0% lower biofilm thickness, and 47.0% less cell volume than the control membrane during 1-, 3-, and 5-day filtration tests operated under constant transmembrane pressure. Bismuth leached into bioreactor suspension after the 5-day filtration was about 10% of the total coated materials, and was not detected in the filtration permeate. High-throughput sequencing revealed that the community composition of suspended sludge differed significantly from the membrane biofilm community. Heterotrophic Xanthomonas spp. were identified as the major surface colonizer on the coated membrane, indicating its low sensitivity to BisBAL NPs. Based on the predicted functional traits of the membrane biofilm communities, antioxidant and DNA repair pathways were among the major molecular targets of BisBAL NPs. Overall, lipophilic BisBAL-NP coating could be a novel, safe, and effective solution to membrane biofouling, offering improved filtration efficiency and extended membrane lifespan.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-300
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 28 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-06-03
Acknowledgements: This study was funded by the Vermont EPSCoR – United States faculty pilot grant. We would like to thank Tim Hunter and Scott Tighe at the University of Vermont Massively Parallel Sequencing Facility for performing Illumina sequencing. We also thank Dr. Husnul Maab and Pradeep Neelakanda at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division for their assistance in preparing polysulfone ultrafiltration membranes.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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