Biopolymer-induced calcium phosphate scaling in membrane-based water treatment systems: Langmuir model films studies Academic Article uri icon


  • Biofouling and scaling on reverse osmosis (RO) or nanofiltration (NF) membranes during desalination of secondary and tertiary effluents pose an obstacle that limits the reuse of wastewater. In this study we explored the mineral scaling induced by biopolymers originated from bacterial biofilms: bovine serum albumin (BSA), fibrinogen, lysozyme and alginic acid, as well as an extracts of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) from bio-fouled RO membranes from wastewater treatment facility. Mineralization studies were performed on Langmuir films of the biopolymers deposited at the interface of a solution simulating RO desalination of secondary-treated wastewater effluents. All studied biopolymers and EPS induced heterogeneous mineralization of mainly calcium phosphate. Using IR spectroscopy coupled with systematic quantitative analysis of the surface pressure versus molecular-area isotherms, we determined the mineralization tendencies of the biopolymers to be in the order of: fibrinogen > lysozyme > BSA > alginic acid. The biopolymers and EPS studied here were found to be accelerators of calcium-phosphate mineralization. This study demonstrates the utilization of Langmuir surface-pressure area isotherms and a model solution in quantitatively assessing the mineralization tendencies of various molecular components of EPS in context of membrane-based water treatment systems.

publication date

  • July 1, 2016