Development of novel membrane integrity tests for virus sized particles

Validation of the pathogen removal efficiency in water treatment processes is a critical step in the delivery of water recycling projects. Validation is the process of linking the results of reliable integrity monitoring techniques to the observed removal efficiency for the target contaminants. In the case of membranes, while, existing integrity monitoring methods are adequate for pathogens such as cryptosporidium that are larger than 3 microns, there are limited methods available to quantify integrity for small pathogens such as enteric virus which range from 0.01 – 0.04 μm. Currently, challenge testing with MS2 phage is the best process indicator for virus removal in membrane systems, however incorporating this test in a full scale plant on a regular basis is attended by high costs to cultivate, dose and enumerate the bacteriophage.

This project aims at development and testing of alternate non-microbial surrogate particles for membrane integrity monitoring and membrane validations. Modified silver nanoparticles with various chemical and surface modifications are prepared and testing is underway.

Research Team:    Alice Antony
                                Greg Leslie

Collaborators:       Sydney Water
                                South East Water (SEWL)

Funding Body:       Water Research Australia

Publications: Antony A; Blackbeard J; Angles M; Leslie GL, 2014, ‘Non-microbial indicators for monitoring virus removal by ultrafiltration membranes’, Journal of Membrane Science, vol. 454, pp 193 – 199

Click the image below for more information or contact us at

Research brochure