Microbiomes and chemical components of feed water and membrane-attached biofilm in reverse osmosis system to treat membrane bioreactor effluents.
ABSTRACT: Reverse osmosis (RO) system at a stage after membrane bioreactor (MBR) is used for the wastewater treatment and reclamation. One of the most serious problems in this system is membrane fouling caused by biofilm formation. Here, microbiomes and chemical components of the feed water and membrane-attached biofilm of RO system to treat MBR effluents were investigated by non-destructive confocal reflection microscopy, excitation-emission fluorescence spectroscopy and high-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. The microscopic visualization indicated that the biofilm contained large amounts of microbial cells (0.5?±?0.3~3.9?±?2.3 µm3/µm2) and the extracellular polysaccharides (3.3?±?1.7~9.4?±?5.1 µm3/µm2) and proteins (1.0?±?0.2~1.3?±?0.1 µm3/µm2). The spectroscopic analysis identified the humic and/or fulvic acid-like substances and protein-like substances as the main membrane foulants. High-throughput sequencing showed that Pseudomonas spp. and other heterotrophic bacteria dominated the feed water microbiomes. Meanwhile, the biofilm microbiomes were composed of diverse bacteria, among which operational taxonomic units related to the autotrophic Hydrogenophaga pseudoflava and Blastochloris viridis were abundant, accounting for up to 22.9?±?4.1% and 3.1?±?0.4% of the total, respectively. These results demonstrated that the minor autotrophic bacteria in the feed water played pivotal roles in the formation of polysaccharide- and protein-rich biofilm on RO membrane, thereby causing membrane fouling of RO system.
Project description:In this study, an approach using influent COD/N ratio reduction was employed to improve process performance and nitrification efficiency in a membrane bioreactor (MBR). Besides sludge reduction, membrane fouling alleviation was observed during 330 d operation, which was attributed to the decreased production of soluble microbial products (SMP) and efficient carbon metabolism in the autotrophic nitrifying community. 454 high-throughput 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing revealed that the diversity of microbial sequences was mainly determined by the feed characteristics, and that microbes could derive energy by switching to a more autotrophic metabolism to resist the environmental stress. The enrichment of nitrifiers in an MBR with a low COD/N-ratio demonstrated that this condition stimulated nitrification, and that the community distribution of ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and nitrite oxidizing bacteria (NOB) resulted in faster nitrite uptake rates. Further, ammonia oxidation was the rate-limiting step during the full nitrification.
Project description:Membrane fouling in membrane bioreactors (MBR) remains a major issue and knowledge of microbes associated with biofilm formation might facilitate the control of this phenomenon, Thus, an anoxic/oxic membrane bioreactor (A/O-MBR) was operated under an extremely low organic loading rate (0.002 kg-COD·m<sup>-3</sup>·day<sup>-1</sup>) to induce membrane fouling and the major biofilm-forming bacteria were identified. After operation under extremely low organic loading condition, the reactor showed accumulation of total nitrogen and phosphorus along with biofilm development on the membrane surface. Thus, membrane fouling induced by microbial cell lysis was considered to have occurred. Although no major changes were observed in the microbial community structure of the activated sludge in the MBR before and after membrane fouling, uncultured bacteria were specifically increased in the biofilm. Therefore, bacteria belonging to candidate phyla including TM6, OD1 and Gammaproteobacteria could be important biofilm-forming bacteria.
Project description:High operational cost due to membrane fouling propensity remains a major drawback for the widespread application of membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology. As a result, studies on membrane fouling mitigation through the application of integrated processes have been widely explored. In this work, the combined application of electrochemical processes and moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) technology within an MBR at laboratory scale was performed by applying an intermittent voltage of 3 V/cm to a reactor filled with 30% carriers. The treatment efficiency of the electro moving bed membrane bioreactor (eMB-MBR) technology in terms of ammonium nitrogen (NH?-N) and orthophosphate (PO?-P) removal significantly improved from 49.8% and 76.7% in the moving bed membrane bioreactor (MB-MBR) control system to 55% and 98.7% in the eMB-MBR, respectively. Additionally, concentrations of known fouling precursors and membrane fouling rate were noticeably lower in the eMB-MBR system as compared to the control system. Hence, this study successfully demonstrated an innovative and effective technology (i.e., eMB-MBR) to improve MBR performance in terms of both conventional contaminant removal and fouling mitigation.
Project description:Membrane fouling presents the greatest challenge to the application of membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology. Formation of biofilms on the membrane surface is the suggested cause, yet little is known of the composition or dynamics of the microbial community responsible. To gain an insight into this important question, we applied 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing with a curated taxonomy and fluorescent in situ hybridization to monitor the community of a pilot-scale MBR carrying out enhanced biological nitrogen and phosphorus removal with municipal wastewater. In order to track the dynamics of the fouling process, we concurrently investigated the communities of the biofilm, MBR bulk sludge, and the conventional activated sludge system used to seed the MBR system over several weeks from start-up. As the biofilm matured the initially abundant betaproteobacterial genera Limnohabitans, Hydrogenophaga and Malikia were succeeded by filamentous Chloroflexi and Gordonia as the abundant species. This study indicates that, although putative pioneer species appear, the biofilm became increasingly similar to the bulk community with time. This suggests that the microbial population in bulk water will largely determine the community structure of the mature biofilm.
Project description:A critical problem in seawater reverse osmosis (RO) filtration processes is biofilm accumulation, which reduces system performance and increases energy requirements. As a result, membrane systems need to be periodically cleaned by combining chemical and physical protocols. Nutrient limitation in the feed water is a strategy to control biofilm formation, lengthening stable membrane system performance. However, the cleanability of biofilms developed under various feed water nutrient conditions is not well understood. This study analyzes the removal efficiency of biofilms grown in membrane fouling simulators (MFSs) supplied with water varying in phosphorus concentrations (3 and 6 ?g P·L<sup>-1</sup> and with constant biodegradable carbon concentration) by applying hydraulic cleaning after a defined 140% increase in the feed channel pressure drop, through increasing the cross-flow velocity from 0.18 m s<sup>-1</sup> to 0.35 m s<sup>-1</sup> for 1 h. The two phosphorus concentrations (3 and 6 ?g P·L<sup>-1</sup>) simulate the RO feed water without and with the addition of a phosphorus-based antiscalant, respectively, and were chosen based on measurements at a full-scale seawater RO desalination plant. Biomass quantification parameters performed after membrane autopsies such as total cell count, adenosine triphosphate, total organic carbon, and extracellular polymeric substances were used along with feed channel pressure drop measurements to evaluate biofilm removal efficiency. The outlet water during hydraulic cleaning (1 h) was collected and characterized as well. Optical coherence tomography images were taken before and after hydraulic cleaning for visualization of biofilm morphology. Biofilms grown at 3 ?g P·L<sup>-1</sup> had an enhanced hydraulic cleanability compared to biofilms grown at 6 ?g P·L<sup>-1</sup>. The higher detachment for biofilms grown at a lower phosphorus concentration was explained by more soluble polymers in the EPS, resulting in a lower biofilm cohesive and adhesive strength. This study confirms that manipulating the feed water nutrient composition can engineer a biofilm that is easier to remove, shifting research focus towards biofilm engineering and more sustainable cleaning strategies.
Project description:This study investigated the removal characteristics of N-Nitrosamines and their precursors at three pilot-scale water reclamation plants. These plants applies different integrated membrane systems: (1) microfiltration (MF)/nanofiltration (NF)/reverse osmosis (RO) membrane; (2) sand filtration/three-stage RO; and (3) ultrafiltration (UF)/NF and UF/RO. Variable removal of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) by the RO processes could be attributed to membrane fouling and the feed water temperature. The effect of membrane fouling on N-Nitrosamine removal was extensively evaluated at one of the plants by conducting one month of operation and chemical cleaning of the RO element. Membrane fouling enhanced N-Nitrosamine removal by the pilot-scale RO process. This finding contributes to better understanding of the variable removal of NDMA by RO processes. This study also investigated the removal characteristics of N-Nitrosamine precursors. The NF and RO processes greatly reduced NDMA formation potential (FP), but the UF process had little effect. The contributions of MF, NF, and RO processes for reducing FPs of NDMA, N-Nitrosopyrrolidine and N-Nitrosodiethylamine were different, suggesting different size distributions of their precursors.
Project description:Routine chemical cleaning with the combined use of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrochloric acid (HCl) is carried out as a means of biofouling control in reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. The novelty of the research presented herein is in the application of urea, instead of NaOH, as a chemical cleaning agent to full-scale spiral-wound RO membrane elements. A comparative study was carried out at a pilot-scale facility at the Evides Industriewater DECO water treatment plant in the Netherlands. Three fouled 8-inch diameter membrane modules were harvested from the lead position of one of the full-scale RO units treating membrane bioreactor (MBR) permeate. One membrane module was not cleaned and was assessed as the control. The second membrane module was cleaned by the standard alkali/acid cleaning protocol. The third membrane module was cleaned with concentrated urea solution followed by acid rinse. The results showed that urea cleaning is as effective as the conventional chemical cleaning with regards to restoring the normalized feed channel pressure drop, and more effective in terms of (i) improving membrane permeability, and (ii) solubilizing organic foulants and the subsequent removal of the surface fouling layer. Higher biomass removal by urea cleaning was also indicated by the fact that the total organic carbon (TOC) content in the HCl rinse solution post-urea-cleaning was an order of magnitude greater than in the HCl rinse after standard cleaning. Further optimization of urea-based membrane cleaning protocols and urea recovery and/or waste treatment methods is proposed for full-scale applications.
Project description:Biofouling is one of the major factors causing decline in membrane performance in reverse osmosis (RO) plants, and perhaps the biggest hurdle of membrane technology. Chemical cleaning is periodically carried out at RO membrane installations aiming to restore membrane performance. Typical cleaning agents used in the water treatment industry include sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrochloric acid (HCl) in sequence. Rapid biofilm regrowth and related membrane performance decline after conventional chemical cleaning is a routinely observed phenomenon due to the inefficient removal of biomass from membrane modules. Since extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) make up the strongest and predominant structural framework of biofilms, disintegration of the EPS matrix should be the main target for enhanced biomass removal. Previously, we demonstrated at lab-scale the use of concentrated urea as a chemical cleaning agent for RO membrane systems. The protein denaturation property of urea was exploited to solubilize the proteinaceous foulants, weakening the EPS layer, resulting in enhanced biomass solubilization and removal from RO membrane systems. In this work, we investigated the impact of repeated chemical cleaning cycles with urea/HCl as well as NaOH/HCl on biomass removal and the potential adaptation of the biofilm microbial community. Chemical cleaning with urea/HCl was consistently more effective than NaOH/HCl cleaning over 6 cleaning and regrowth cycles. At the end of the 6 cleaning cycles, the percent reduction was 35% and 41% in feed channel pressure drop, 50% and 70% in total organic carbon, 30% and 40% in EPS proteins, and 40% and 66% in the peak intensities of protein-like matter, after NaOH/HCl cleaning and Urea/HCl cleaning, respectively. 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequencing of the biofilm microbial community revealed that urea cleaning does not select for key biofouling families such as <i>Sphingomonadaceae</i> and <i>Xanthomonadaceae</i> that are known to survive conventional chemical cleaning and produce adhesive EPS. This study reaffirmed that urea possesses all the desirable properties of a chemical cleaning agent, i.e., it dissolves the existing fouling layer, delays fresh fouling accumulation by inhibiting the production of a more viscous EPS, does not cause damage to the membranes, is chemically stable, and environmentally friendly as it can be recycled for cleaning.
Project description:The origin, structure, and composition of biofilms in various compartments of an industrial full-scale reverse-osmosis (RO) membrane water purification plant were analyzed by molecular biological methods. Samples were taken when the RO installation suffered from a substantial pressure drop and decreased production. The bacterial community of the RO membrane biofilm was clearly different from the bacterial community present at other locations in the RO plant, indicating the development of a specialized bacterial community on the RO membranes. The typical freshwater phylotypes in the RO membrane biofilm (i.e., Proteobacteria, Cytophaga-Flexibacter-Bacteroides group, and Firmicutes) were also present in the water sample fed to the plant, suggesting a feed water origin. However, the relative abundances of the different species in the mature biofilm were different from those in the feed water, indicating that the biofilm was actively formed on the RO membrane sheets and was not the result of a concentration of bacteria present in the feed water. The majority of the microorganisms (59% of the total number of clones) in the biofilm were related to the class Proteobacteria, with a dominance of Sphingomonas spp. (27% of all clones). Members of the genus Sphingomonas seem to be responsible for the biofouling of the membranes in the RO installation.
Project description:A novel strategy to control membrane bioreactor (MBR) biofouling using the nitric oxide (NO) donor compound PROLI NONOate was examined. When the biofilm was pre-established on membranes at transmembrane pressure (TMP) of 88-90?kPa, backwashing of the membrane module with 80??M PROLI NONOate for 45?min once daily for 37 days reduced the fouling resistance (Rf ) by 56%. Similarly, a daily, 1?h exposure of the membrane to 80??M PROLI NONOate from the commencement of MBR operation for 85 days resulted in reduction of the TMP and Rf by 32.3% and 28.2%. The microbial community in the control MBR was observed to change from days 71 to 85, which correlates with the rapid TMP increase. Interestingly, NO-treated biofilms at 85 days had a higher similarity with the control biofilms at 71 days relative to the control biofilms at 85 days, indicating that the NO treatment delayed the development of biofilm bacterial community. Despite this difference, sequence analysis indicated that NO treatment did not result in a significant shift in the dominant fouling species. Confocal microscopy revealed that the biomass of biopolymers and microorganisms in biofilms were all reduced on the PROLI NONOate-treated membranes, where there were reductions of 37.7% for proteins and 66.7% for microbial cells, which correlates with the reduction in TMP. These results suggest that NO treatment could be a promising strategy to control biofouling in MBRs.