Improved antifouling properties of photobioreactors by surface grafted sulfobetaine polymers

<p>To improve the antifouling (AF) properties of photobioreactors (PBR) for microalgal cultivation, using trihydroxymethyl aminomethane (tris) as the linking agent, a series of polyethylene (PE) films grafted with sulfobetaine (PE-SBMA) with grafting density ranging from 23.11 to 112 μg cm<sup>−2</sup> were prepared through surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP). It was found that the contact angle of PE-SBMA films decreased with the increase in the grafting density. When the grafting density was 101.33 μg cm<sup>−2</sup>, it reached 67.27°. Compared with the PE film, the adsorption of protein on the PE-SBMA film decreased by 79.84% and the total weight of solid and absorbed microalgae decreased by 54.58 and 81.69%, respectively. Moreover, the transmittance of PE-SBMA film recovered to 86.03% of the initial value after cleaning, while that of the PE film recovered to only 47.27%. The results demonstrate that the AF properties of PE films were greatly improved on polySBMA-grafted surfaces.</p>