Water Purification Membranes Bearing Antimicrobial Polymers


Background: Thin-film composite (TFC) membranes for reverse osmosis and nanofiltration are widely used in the production of drinking water desalination and wastewater treatment. A major problem with these membrane-based technologies is the accumulation of microorganisms which leads to biofilm growth and biofouling. Cleaning methods for TFC membranes have proven ineffectual or problematic. For example chlorine generates harmful byproducts and is unsuitable for most water treatment applications. A safer more effective approach would be to render the membranes intrinsically resistant to microbial colonization. Technology Description: UW–Madison researchers and collaborators at Ben Gurion University in Israel have developed novel antibacterial water treatment membranes suitable for a wide range of water purification applications. The new entities are conventional membranes to which antimicrobial polymers have been attached. The antimicrobial agents are nylon-3 copolymers which can be prepared via ring-opening polymerization of beta-lactams. Optimized nylon-3 copolymers display antimicrobial activity on par with natural antibiotic peptides. The polymers are immobilized on the surface of the membranes with chemically defined linkers. Applications: 1) Water purification membranes that inhibit biofilm growth and reduce biofouling 2) Reverse osmosis and nanofiltration


1) Reduces biofilm growth and biofouling 2) Works in saline and non-saline environments 3) Nylon-3 copolymers have many advantages over natural peptides 4) Effective against a range of bacteria (both Gram-positive and Gram-negative) 5) Easier and less expensive to synthesize than antimicrobial peptides 6) Can be prepared on a large scale 7) Inherently stable to enzymes

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