Thermally responsive membrane-based microbiological sensing component for early detection of membrane biofouling

Guang Cai, Colleen Gorey, Amr Zaky, Isabel Escobar, Cyndee Gruden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Early detection of bacteria in water treatment is desired to mitigate system biofouling and potential human health impacts. This research involved the development of an antibody-based sensor, which was attached to a hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC) modified cellulose acetate ultrafiltration membrane surface, to target bacteria. HPC was chosen because it collapses above and expands below a lower critical solution temperature (43. °C), thus allowing temperature modulation. The membrane had a high target recovery efficiency (10-18%) in both single bacterium and complex samples (simulated by adding organics and competitive organisms). Sensor recovery was decreased (to 5-7%) following temperature activation (above 50. °C) due to adverse impacts of temperature on the antibody. The membrane was able to be regenerated (with 0.1. M NaOH) and reused three consecutive times. The thermally responsive sensing membrane developed from this work was specifically developed to detect biofoulants in membrane-based water treatment processes. However, it could be adapted to address a range of environmental detection concerns, such as pathogen detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-123
Number of pages8
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to DARPA (Grant HR0011-07-1-0003 ) and NSF (CBET 0610624 ) for funding this research. We also wish to express our sincere thanks to Dr Steven Kloos and Ms Jessica Schloss of GE water and Process Technologies for providing membranes.


  • Antibody
  • Detection
  • Membrane
  • Sensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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