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Project ID: 2002OH1B

Title: Preventing the Initiation of Biofouling of Membrane Bioreactors in Wastewater Treatment

Project Type: Research

Focus Categories: Waste Water, Treatment, Water Quality

Keywords: membrane bioreactors, 16S rRNA, pulp and paper mill

Start Date: 09/01/2002

End Date: 08/31/2003

Federal Funds: $50,000

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $189,697

Congressional District: 8

Principal Investigators:
Daniel Barton Oerther
University of Cincinnati

Dionysios Dionysiou
University of Cincinnati


Membrane bioreactors (MBRs) are used to purify waste streams. Because MBRs use small pore sizes and high pressures to accomplish nearly-complete removal of particulate and suspended solids materials from waste streams, the membrane surfaces within MBRs are prone to fouling. Fouling reduces transmembrane flux resulting in an increased need to clean the membrane surfaces and ultimately to replace the membranes. The overall objective of this collaboration is to identify approaches to eliminate fouling of membrane surfaces due to the action of biological components. We hypothesize that preventing the initiation of biofilm formation on membrane surfaces is the best approach for eliminating biofouling of MBRs. To develop preliminary information to test this hypothesis, we propose to investigate the fundamental mechanisms of biofilm initiation on membrane surfaces. The specific interdisciplinary aims for this study include: a) determining the physicochemical properties of select membranes; b) examining the impact of synthetic pulp and paper wastewater on the physiochemical properties of select membranes; c) determining the biochemical interactions between microorganisms and select membranes; d) examining the impact of synthetic pulp and paper mill wastewater on the microbial community colonizing select membranes; and e) determining the role of microbial ecology in the initiation of biofilm formation on membrane surfaces. To accomplish these specific aims, we have assembled a team of investigators including a tenure-track faculty member with experience in physiochemical properties of membranes, a tenure-track faculty member with experience in biological treatment of industrial wastewaters, and a tenure-track faculty member with experience in molecular biology and conventional microbiological analysis of environmental samples. We propose to include two graduate students as well as one undergraduate cooperative education student as members of the team. We propose to address these specific aims during a one-year project. The final products from this project will include preliminary information of biofilm initiation on membrane surfaces and a strategy for pursuing additional funding.

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last Updated: Thursday June 24, 2004 3:18 PM
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