Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination (2020-03-01)

Stimulatory effects on bacteria induced by chemical cleaning cause severe biofouling of membranes

  • Xueye Wang,
  • Jinxing Ma,
  • Zhichao Wu,
  • Zhiwei Wang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 1
pp. 82 – 94


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Chemical cleaning with hypochlorite is routinely used in membrane-based processes. However, a high-transient cleaning efficiency does not guarantee a low biofouling rate when filtration is restarted, with the physiological mechanisms largely remaining unknown. Herein, we investigated the microbial regrowth and surface colonization on membrane surfaces after NaOCl cleaning had been completed. Results of this study showed that the regrowth of model bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, was initially subject to inhibition due to the damage of key enzymes' activity and the accumulation of intracellular reactive oxygen species although the oxidative stress induced by NaOCl had been removed. However, with the resuscitation ongoing, the stimulatory effects became obvious, which was associated with the enhanced production of N-acyl homoserine lactones and the secretion of eDNA that ultimately led to more severe biofouling on the membrane surface. This study elucidates the inhibition–stimulation mechanisms involved in biofilm reformation (membrane biofouling) after membrane chemical cleaning, which is of particular significance to the improvement of cleaning efficiency and application of membrane technologies.