Desalination energy efficiency

Wednesday, 23 January, 2008

Using biofilm control technology

"New discoveries in microbiology and nanotechnology applied to reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology will allow increased energy efficiency of desalination and water recycling plants around the world", said Dr David Garman, Environmental Biotechnology CRC executive director and the president of the International Water Association.

"Membrane fouling is one of the greatest contributors to increased energy usage and cost in the desalination and water recycling processes. Reducing fouling will significantly decrease operating costs through reduced energy consumption, a reduction in chemical usage and an overall reduction in a plant's environmental footprint," Dr Garman continued.

Bacterial slime known as a biofilms is the main contributor to fouling in membrane systems and causes corrosion of pipes. Environmental Biotechnology CRC (EBCRC) has discovered an effective natural cell signalling system that initiates dispersal in established biofilms and prevents the formation of new biofilms.

Using knowledge of cell-to-cell signalling within biofilms, EBCRC is developing a range of biofilm control formulations that will stimulate natural bacterial dispersal events. The technology is applicable across many industries including pipe and membrane fouling control, cleaning and disinfection solutions, fresh produce washing, medical implant coatings and for use in infection control.

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