Enhancing the formation and shear resistance of nitrifying biofilms on membranes by surface modification

Susanne Lackner, Maria Holmberg, Akihiko Terada, P. Kingshott, Barth F. Smets

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Polypropylene (PP) membranes and polyethylene (PE) surfaces were modified to enhance formation and shear resistance of nitrifying biofilms for wastewater treatment applications. A combination of plasma polymerization and wet chemistry was employed to ultimately introduce poly(ethyleneglycol) (PEG) chains with two different functional groups (-PEG-NH2 and -PEG-CH3). Biofilm growth experiments using a mixed nitrifying bacterial culture revealed that the specific combination of PEG chains with amino groups resulted in most biofilm formation on both PP and PE samples. Detachment experiments showed similar trends: biofilms on -PEG-NH2 modified surfaces were much stronger compared to the other modifications and the unmodified reference surfaces. Electrostatic interactions between the protonated amino group and negatively charged bacteria as well as PEG chain density which can affect the surface structure might be possible explanations of the superiority of the -PEG-NH2 modification. The success of the-PEG-NH2 modification was independent of the original surface and might, therefore, be used in wastewater treatment bioreactors to improve reactor performance by making biofilm formation more stable and predictable.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWater Research
    Issue number14
    Pages (from-to)3469-3478
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Detachment
    • Shear stress
    • Surface modification
    • Biofilm formation
    • Poly(ethyleneglycol) (PEG)


    Dive into the research topics of 'Enhancing the formation and shear resistance of nitrifying biofilms on membranes by surface modification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this