Biofilm detachment by self-collapsing air microbubbles: A potential chemical-free cleaning technology for membrane biofouling

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Abstract

Microbubbles (MBs) have been known for their ability to generate pressure waves through shrinking and subsequent self-collapsing phenomenon. In the present study, we have investigated the potential of air MBs for biofilm detachment from a nylon membrane surface in comparison to chemical cleaning by sodium hypochloride (NaOCl). About 88% of fixed biomass detachment was observed after 1 h air microbubbling, while only 10% of biofilm detachment was achieved in the control experiment without microbubbles. Images taken with a confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM) clearly showed that nearly all extracellular polysaccharides and proteins in biofilms were removed from the membrane surface, indicating a complete disruption of the extracellular polymeric matrix of biofilms. It was further demonstrated that microbubbling is much more efficient than chemical cleaning with 0.5% NaOCl solution in terms of removal of fixed biomass and extracellular polysaccharides and proteins. This study provides experimental evidence showing that self-collapsing air MBs is a chemical-free and eco-friendly technology for biofilm detachment. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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Agarwal, A., Xu, H., Ng, W. J., & Liu, Y. (2012). Biofilm detachment by self-collapsing air microbubbles: A potential chemical-free cleaning technology for membrane biofouling. Journal of Materials Chemistry, 22(5), 2203–2207. https://doi.org/10.1039/c1jm14439a

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