Impact of Hydrodynamics on the First Stages of Biofilm Formation in Forward Osmosis with Spacers

Andreas Kastl, Anne Bogler, Markus Spinnler, Thomas Sattelmayer, Avraham Be'er, Edo Bar-Zeev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Initial deposition of bacteria is a critical stage during biofilm formation and biofouling development in membrane systems used in the water industry. However, the effects of hydrodynamic conditions on spatiotemporal deposition patterns of bacteria during the initial stages of biofilm formation remain unclear. Large field epifluorescence microscopy enabled in situ and real-time tracking of Bacillus subtilis in a forward osmosis system with spacers during the first 4 h of biofilm formation. This study quantitatively compares the spatiotemporal deposition patterns between different hydrodynamic conditions: high and low permeate water flux (6 or 30 L m-2 h-1) as well as high and low crossflow velocity (1 or 14 cm s-1). Low crossflow velocity and high permeate water flux maximized bacterial attachment to the membrane surface, which was 60 times greater (6 × 103 cells mm-2) than at high crossflow velocity and low permeate water flux (<100 cells mm-2). Imaging at 30 s intervals revealed three phases (i.e., lag, exponential, and linear) in the development of deposition over time. Quantification of spatial deposition patterns showed that an increase in the ratio of permeate water flux to crossflow velocity led to a homogeneous deposition, while a decrease had the opposite effect. The insights of this research indicate that an appropriate choice of hydrodynamic conditions can minimize bacteria accumulation prior to biofilm formation in new and cleaned FO membrane systems treating water of high fouling propensity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5279-5287
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of Hydrodynamics on the First Stages of Biofilm Formation in Forward Osmosis with Spacers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this