Short-term adhesion and long-term biofouling testing of polydopamine and poly(ethylene glycol) surface modifications of membranes and feed spacers for biofouling control

Daniel J. Miller, Paula A. Araújo, Patricia B. Correia, Matthew M. Ramsey, Joop C. Kruithof, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Benny D. Freeman, Donald R. Paul, Marvin Whiteley, Johannes S. Vrouwenvelder

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Ultrafiltration, nanofiltration membranes and feed spacers were hydrophilized with polydopamine and polydopamine- g-poly(ethylene glycol) surface coatings. The fouling propensity of modified and unmodified membranes was evaluated by short-term batch protein and bacterial adhesion tests. The fouling propensity of modified and unmodified membranes and spacers was evaluated by continuous biofouling experiments in a membrane fouling simulator. The goals of the study were: 1) to determine the effectiveness of polydopamine and polydopamine- g-poly(ethylene glycol) membrane coatings for biofouling control and 2) to compare techniques commonly used in assessment of membrane biofouling propensity with biofouling experiments under practical conditions. Short-term adhesion tests were carried out under static, no-flow conditions for 1 h using bovine serum albumin, a common model globular protein, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common model Gram-negative bacterium. Biofouling tests were performed in a membrane fouling simulator (MFS) for several days under flow conditions similar to those encountered in industrial modules with the autochthonous drinking water population and acetate dosage as organic substrate. Polydopamine- and polydopamine- g-poly(ethylene glycol)-modified membranes showed significantly reduced adhesion of bovine serum albumin and P. aeruginosa in the short-term adhesion tests, but no reduction of biofouling was observed during longer biofouling experiments with modified membranes and spacers. These results demonstrate that short-term batch adhesion experiments using model proteins or bacteria under static conditions are not indicative of biofouling, while continuous biofouling experiments showed that membrane surface modification by polydopamine and polydopamine- g-poly(ethylene glycol) is not effective for biofouling control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3737-3753
Number of pages17
JournalWater Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofilm control
  • BSA
  • NF
  • PEG
  • RO
  • Surface modification
  • UF

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