This study describes a proof-of-concept for a compact real-time surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS)-online sensing approach for detection of biofouling in drinking water membrane filtration. In this study we created a custom-designed flow-cell that mimics a cross-flow membrane filtration system. This enables one to measure changes in surface-foulants, such as Brevundimonas dimiuta (BD) bacteria and adenine, under conditions that are similar to conventional membrane filtration systems. For measurements we used a common portable Raman-spectrometer with a laboratory Raman-probe in combination with a specially developed gold nanoparticle (Au NP) SERS-sensing area on filter-membranes. This allowed real-time detection of low concentrations of surface-foulants immediately after inoculation into an ultra-pure water reservoir under pressure-driven filtration conditions. We compared these online results with static measurements from an offline, sample-taking approach, using a confocal Raman-laboratory-microscope. The developed Au NP SERS-sensing-area on the membranes proved to be stable over a long period of surface fouling investigations and to suppress the strong interfering Raman-signal originating from the composition layer of most filtration membranes.
- Online process monitoring
- Real-time detection
- Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy