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Analysis of Biofilm Mediated Fouling of Nanofiltration Membranes (AFFIRM)
Start date: Oct 1, 2011, End date: Sep 30, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. Drinking water quality is threatened by newly emerging organic micro-pollutants (pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals) in source waters. Nanofiltration is a technology that is expected to play a key role in future water treatment processes due to its effectiveness in removal of micropollutants. However, the loss of membrane flux due to fouling is one of the main impediments in the development of membrane processes for use in drinking water treatment. Currently there is a wholly inadequate mechanistic understanding of the role of biofilm on the fouling of nanofiltration membranes.Applying techniques including confocal microscopy, force spectroscopy, and infrared spectroscopy using an experimental programme informed by a technique known as scale-down together with mathematical modelling, it is confidently expected that significant advances will be gained in the mechanistic understanding of nanofiltration biofouling.The specific objectives are 1. How is the rate of formation and extent of such biofilms influenced by the biological response to the local microenvironment? 2 Elucidate the effect of extracellular polysaccharide substances on physical properties, composition and structure of these biofilms. 3: Investigate mechanisms to enhance biofilm removal by a physical detachment process complemented by techniques that alter biofilm material properties.A more fundamental insight into the mechanisms of nanofiltration operation will help in further development of this treatment method in future water treatment processes."
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