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Yoram Oren, Itai Gal, Soumya Pandit, Nathan Kalson, Meagan S Mauter and Moshe Herzberg
Ben-Gurion University, Israel
Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Posters & Accepted Abstracts: J Phys Chem Biophys
Electrochemical technologies have been experiencing a recent renaissance in water treatment. These techniques are used for brackish desalination as well as in industrial applications. Examples of electrochemical separation processes include electrodialysis (ED) and capacitive deionization (CDI) and its advanced version, membrane CDI (MCDI). Very little is reported about the biofouling propensity of electrochemical treatment processes used for natural types of water. Adhered cells are not only likely to decrease the ion capacity of the electrical double layer, electrode's conductivity and transport properties of ion exchange membranes, but also as inactivated or dead cells they might present a beneficial substratum for the undesired attachment and proliferation of approaching planktonic bacteria. Surprisingly, only a few studies in the ED, CDI, and MCDI fields deal with the fundamental aspects of bacteria adherence to the electrodes and the development of biofilms under the influence of the electric fields prevailing in these installations. Most of the studies in this field refer to the problem from a sanitary point of view, preventing device-related infections in hospital environments or disinfecting contaminated liquids. The mechanisms of bacteria inactivation remained however rather speculative in most of the mentioned reports. The present study is focused on the factors governing bio-macromolecule and bacterial adherence and biofilm development on electronically conductive surfaces such as carbon, graphite and gold, as well as on ion exchange membranes, in the absence and the presence of an externally applied electric field. A two-electrode flow cell including one transparent (ITO) electrode for on-line microscopic observations is used for bacterial attachment and biofilm growth studies. The biofouled electrodes are analyzed for biovolume and live/dead bacteria by using confocal laser microscopy (CLSM). Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation and electrochemical module (E-QCM-D) is used for studying mass and rate of electrosorption of model biomacromolecules and bacteria.
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