Until recently, the realization that membrane biofouling during nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) processes is an unavoidable occurrence, has led to a paradigm shift in which biofouling management approaches rather than biofouling prevention are now being considered. To implement this new concept, it is crucial to understand the fundamentals of cell-surface interactions during bacterial adhesion, a prerequisite to biofouling of membranes. As such, with membrane biofouling already being widely studied and documented, greater attention should be given to the factors involved in the initial bioadhesion onto membranes during NF/RO processes. This review focuses on the interactions between bacterial cells and NF/RO membranes, emphasizing the mechanisms of bacterial adhesion to NF/RO membranes with particular reference to the effects of micro-environmental conditions experienced at the membrane interface, such as feed-water composition, hydrodynamics, permeate flux and conditioning layers. This review also discusses membrane surface properties and how it relates to bacterial adhesion as well as latest advancements in antibacterial membranes, identifying areas that need further investigation.
- Bacterial adhesion