A new method of assessing bacterial growth in seawater reverse osmosis systems: method development and applications

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Publication Details

Output type: Conference proceeding

UM6P affiliated Publication?: No

Editor list: Almotasembellah Abushaban, Sergio .G. Salinas-Rodriguez, Subhanjan Mondal, Said A. Goueli, Jan C. Schippers, Maria D. Kennedy

Publisher: The international desalination association

Place: São Paulo, Brazil

Publication year: 2017

Title of series: The International Desalination Association World Congress 2017

Number in series: 58031

Volume number: IDA17WC

Number of pages: 12

ISBN: IDA17WC- 58031_ Abushaba

Languages: English (EN-GB)


Controlling biofouling of reverse osmosis (RO) membrane at an early stage is the key to successful and cost effective operation of membrane-based desalination systems. Standard methods to monitor and predict biofouling of RO membranes do not exist in fresh water nor seawater. Assimilable organic carbon (AOC) of RO feed water has more attention as it is directly related to the bacterial growth. A new method using indigenous bacteria consortium was developed based on Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP measurement is not applicable in seawater as salts substantially inhibit the enzymatic ATP reaction. Therefore, a method which enables bacterial ATP measurement without the salinity influence was developed.

The key to this development is the application of seawater-specific reagents for extracting and detecting ATP from marine bacteria. ATP is directly extracted from the biomass in the seawater followed by detection of the ATP. To further increase the sensitivity of the assay, an additional filtration step can be incorporated into the method for samples with ultra-low ATP concentrations.

The new ATP method is direct, fast, and sensitive (LOD = 0.25 ng/L). The incorporation of a filtration step further improved the sensitivity of the assay (LOD < 0.06 ng/L). The developed ATP and AOC methods were successfully applied for monitoring bacterial activity and bacterial growth potential at three different locations in the Netherlands and the Middle East. For a period of 8 months, ATP concentrations were monitored in North Sea waters where ATP concentration ranging from 14 to 1000 ng/L. Moreover, the newly AOC method was monitored in 2 full scale seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plants in the Middle East.

Overall, the new methods are promising tools for monitoring and controlling SWRO from raw water to the RO.


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Last updated on 2021-28-09 at 14:47