An important issue for an economic application of the pulsed electric field treatment for bacterial decontamination of wastewater is the specific treatment energy needed for effective reduction of bacterial populations. The present experimental study performed in a field amplitude range of 40 > E > 200 kV/cm and for a suspension conductivity of 0.01 = κ e > 0.2 S/m focusses on the application of short pulses, 25 ns > T > 10 μs, of rectangular, bipolar and exponential shape and was made on Pseudomonas putida, which is a typical and widespread wastewater microorganism. The comparison of inactivation results with calculations of the temporal and azimuthal membrane charging dynamics using the model of Pauly and Schwan revealed that for efficient inactivation, membrane segments at the cell equator have to be charged quickly and to a sufficiently high value, on the order of 0.5 V. After fulfilling this basic condition by an appropriate choice of pulse field strength and duration, the log rate of inactivation for a given suspension conductivity of 0.2 S/m was found to be independent of the duration of individual pulses for constant treatment energy expenditure. Moreover, experimental results suggest that even pulse shape plays a minor role in inactivation efficiency. The variation of the suspension conductivity resulted in comparable inactivation performance of identical pulse parameters if the product of pulse duration and number of pulses was the same, i.e., required treatment energy can be linearly downscaled for lower conductivities, provided that pulse amplitude and duration are selected for entire membrane surface permeabilization.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 10, 2013
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