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Project ID:2006OH34B

Title: Characterizing and Controlling Membrane Biofouling

Project Type: Research

Start Date: 03/01/2006

End Date: 02/28/2007

Congressional District: 1

Focus Categories: Water Quality, Water Supply, Treatment

Keywords: , Biofouling, 16S rRNA, Microbiology, Modeling

Principal Investigators: Oerther, Daniel Barton (University of Cincinnati); Dionysiou, Dionysios

Federal Funds: $28,127

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $64,323

Abstract: As water quality regulations become more stringent, water quality professionals are considering membrane unit operations for drinking water treatment (to protect human health from pathogens) and wastewater treatment (to prevent environmental degradation from organics, nutrients, and emerging micropollutants - pharmaceuticals). The major costs hindering the wide-spread use of membranes include: (1) capital costs and (2) operating costs. Improvements in materials and manufacturing processes have reduced capital costs. The most significant contribution to operating costs is membrane cleaning. Effectively controlling membrane biofouling would reduce the costs of membrane cleaning resulting in improved economic incentives for the wide-spread adoption of membrane technology to protect and improve water quality.

The LONG TERM OBJECTIVE for the Co-Principal Investigators (D.B. Oerther and D.D. Dionysiou) is developing cost effective measures to prevent biofouling. The SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE of this project is to fill critical science gaps by characterizing microbial biofouling of membrane surfaces. These objectives are closely tied to the regional needs of the Ohio River Valley watershed (i.e., impairment of surface waterways due to coliform contamination) and the Great Lakes watershed (i.e., eutrophication due to uncontrolled discharge of nutrients), and therefore the goals of the U.S. Geological Survey.

To address these objectives, four tasks will be undertaken, namely:

It is expected that the completion of these four tasks will build upon our prior research in membrane biofouling (sponsored by U.S.G.S. 104(b) program in FY2002) to better define microbial-mediated membrane biofouling.

In our prior work (which resulted in four archival journals publications - J. Membrane Science 248:189ff; Separation and Purification Technol.45:68ff; Environmental Microbiology in press; and Chemosphere in press - and four conference papers - IWA, Seoul; WEFTEC, New Orleans; IWA, Australia; WEFTEC, Washington DC), we developed a novel conceptual and mathematical model to quantify membrane biofouling and we demonstrated that irreversible fouling of membrane surfaces can be related to the selective binding of specific microbial populations from mixed culture environmental microbial communities. In the current study, we will dramatically exceed our prior success by developing critical, quantitative relationships between specific microbial populations and the propensity for membrane biofouling. The team assembled for this project has a demonstrated track record of high quality research and joint, multi-disciplinary publications in high impact journals. Therefore, this investment in funding for two early career faculty members (both D.B. Oerther and D.D. Dionysiou were promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in autumn 2005 after five years of service at the University of Cincinnati) is expected to reflect positively on the U.S.G.S. 104(b) program for the State of Ohio.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Thursday, January 03, 2008
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