Application of quorum sensing inhibitors for improving anti-biofouling of polyamide reverse osmosis membranes: Direct injection versus surface modification

Jaehyeok Kim, Min Gyu Shin, Won Jung Song, Sang Hee Park, Junhee Ryu, Jaehyun Jung, Su Young Choi, Youngjae Yu, Jihyang Kweon, Jung Hyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Quorum sensing inhibitors (QSIs) have shown promising results in reducing biofouling in various membrane systems. Vanillin was shown to inhibit QS of gram-negative bacteria during water treatment. Here, four vanillin-analogues with various chemical structures were used to understand the QS mechanisms in biofilm reduction and to compare direct dosing and surface modification of the inhibitors. Biofilm reduction, evaluated based on the content of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), was the greatest with vanillin (49%) and occurred to some extent with 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde (21%) and m-anisaldehyde (13%), when direct dosing was applied. Experiments using vanillin-analogues revealed crucial roles of the chemical structure and functional groups on the inhibition of biofilm formation. The aldehyde and hydroxyl groups in both vanillin and 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde might be essential for QS inhibition. Further, surface modification with interfacial polymerization and immobilization of QSIs was conducted to evaluate their anti-biofouling capabilities. Surface modification was markedly effective in reducing biofilm formation; the EPS content of biofilms formed on vanillin-incorporated membranes was reduced by 64%. Additionally, the modified membranes showed a water flux comparable to that of pristine membranes, showing little possibility to block membrane pores during modification procedures. These findings will aid the development of QSI-based techniques for biofouling mitigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117736
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant funded by the Korean Government ( Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning ) (No. 2018R1A2B2005745 ) and the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) (No. 20194010201900 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biofouling reduction
  • Quorum sensing inhibition
  • Surface modification
  • Vanillin
  • Vanillin analogue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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