Reduction of biofouling using vanillin as a quorum sensing inhibitory agent in membrane bioreactors for wastewater treatment

  • Nam, AnNa ;
  • Kweon, JiHyang ;
  • Ryu, JunHee ;
  • Lade, Harshad ;
  • Lee, ChungHak
  • Received : 2014.08.10
  • Accepted : 2015.01.19
  • Published : 2015.05.25


Membrane biofouling impedes wide application of membrane bioreactor (MBR) for wastewater treatment. Recently, quorum sensing (QS) mechanisms are accounted for one of major mechanisms in biofouling of MBRs. In this study, vanillin was applied to investigate reduction of biofouling in MBRs. MBR sludge was analyzed to contain QS signal molecules by cross-feeding biosensor assay and HPLC. In addition, the inhibitory activity of vanillin against bacterial quorum sensing was verified using an indicator strain CV026. The vanillin doses greater than 125 mg/L to 100 mL of MBR sludge showed 25% reduction of biofilm formed on the membrane surfaces. Two MBRs, i.e., a typical MBR as a control and an MBR with vanillin, were operated. The TMP increases of the control MBR were more rapid compared to those of the MBR with the vanillin dose of 250 mg/L. The treatment efficiencies of the two MBRs on organic removal and MLSS were maintained relatively constant. Extracellular polymeric substance concentrations measured at the end of the MBR operation were 173 mg/g biocake for the control MBR and 119 mg/g biocake for the MBR with vanillin. Vanillin shows great potential as an anti-biofouling agent for MBRs without any interference on microbial activity for wastewater treatment.


vanillin;biofouling;quorum sensing;EPS;MBR


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Supported by : Korea Ministry of Environment