USE OF RHAMNOLIPDS IN THE WATER TREATMENT INDUSTRY and how they work

August 19, 2015

Wastewater treatment is defined as the treatment of contaminated water.

The living population of people, plants and animals depend on non-toxic groundwater for drinking water. Unfortunately, groundwater is susceptible to contamination.

Groundwater contamination occurs when man-made products such as pesticides, fertilizers, automotive fuel, motor oil, road salts and household chemicals seep into the groundwater.

Man-made products or commonly known as synthetic products penetrate land’s surface and move through the soil. Contamination also occurs from the Atmosphere. 
Pollution from the atmosphere or from evaporation from bodies of surface water eventually make their way into groundwater supplies.

A new way to treat ground water contamination is slowly finding its way into the water treatment industry.

Surfactant Based Water Treatment Applications

First, rhamnolipids may be injected upstream of membrane based systems used for water treatment or other processes. Second, the membranes may be coated with at least one rhamnolipid or a formulation including a rhamnolipid material in water treatment and other processes.

Selective membranes are used to separate solutes from solvents in which the solutes are dissolved or suspended. Examples of such membranes are reverse osmosis (RO) membranes, ultrafiltration (UF) membranes and microfiltration (MF) membranes, listed in order of increasing pore size. RO membranes pass water, but reject salts and also organic solutes with molecular weight greater than 100 and are in general used for water purification including desalination of brackish water and seawater. However, one of the main problems in the membrane applications is the fouling of the membranes by solutes in natural water or industry effluents or municipal waste waters. The fouling solutes deposit on the membrane during operation to reduce water permeability and also sometimes solute rejection.

Thus it is desirable to manage the deposit of foulants. The foulants are attracted to the membrane surface by hydrophobic interaction and/or charge attraction between the solutes and the membrane surface in addition to colloidal deposits. The water treatment industry uses synthetic and oil based surfactants for cleaning and maintenance of membranes both in-situ and externally. Rhamnolipid Surfactants are added to the inlet water stream to limit the deposits on membrane surfaces on a continuous basis. They are also used in higher concentrations to aggressively clean the membranes on a periodic basis.

The end result is an environmentally safe alternative to invasive applications currently being used.