Membrane fouling occurs in all membrane processes. Surface modifications have gained popularity for enhancing membrane antifouling capability via introducing a hydrophilic component or reducing membrane surface roughness. In this work, we proposed to develop a green antimicrobial lysozyme nanofilm on the polyamide membrane surface with remarkable antibacterial and antifouling properties to effectively reduce membrane fouling. The nanofilm is rooted in the molecular assembly of a protein which is an extraction of food and natural products. The nanofilm exhibits the combination of various functions including antimicrobial, antifouling and antibiofilm. This protein-based nanofilm is robustly transferred and self-adhered on the membrane surface by a simple one-step aqueous coating. The modified RO membrane exhibited good performance in bacterial reduction of ~50% in comparison to the control membrane and experienced almost zero loss in water flux and salt rejection under SWRO testing condition. The membrane is further evaluated with real seawater for 14 days and the modified membrane showed its superiority in flux and fouling control which were verified by the confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and quantified by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES). This work demonstrates that the protein-based biomaterials offer a safe and environmentally friendly way of antimicrobials, which can reduce membrane fouling significantly in membrane filtration. • A protein-based antimicrobial nanofilm was in-situ fabricated on a commercial SWRO membrane surface. • The modification did not change the SWRO membrane's selectivity and water permeability. • The modified membrane demonstrated ~50% bacterial reduction compared to the control membrane. • The modified membrane had good anti-fouling property applied in SWRO.

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