Jun 06, 2017

Microbe Detectives Launches BNR Study

Study to quantify ROI of BNR program, retrofit program in old plant

BNR study will quantify ROI of programs

Microbe Detectives LLC announced a new initiative aimed at advancing Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) programs using its DNA sequencing and analysis services (metagenomics), which generate more than $300,000 in annual operating savings for a municipal wastewater treatment plant.

This is a multi-client, 12-month study that will provide municipal wastewater treatment plants an opportunity to optimize and quantify the return-on-investment of an existing BNR program, or when possible, retrofit a BNR program in an older treatment plant. Product and service companies that enable or enhance BNR programs and municipal wastewater treatment plants that currently have a BNR program or are interested in evaluating a BNR program are encouraged to join this initiative.

An update on program results will be presented at the Microbiome Water Summit, Sept. 29 at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

“Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) involves finding ways to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater biologically instead of chemically,” said According to Leon Downing, Ph.D., senior technologist, CH2M. “That results in a lower net resource consumption. It also allows us to actually recover phosphorus and nitrogen. Instead of treating it, where we are removing it from the water but have another environmental impact (which is the disposal of solid waste), it actually allows us to concentrate those nutrients, pull them out, and get them back into the fertilizer cycle. Biological Nutrient Removal really drives a lot that is protecting the waterways. It’s recovering valuable resources and at the end of day it actually uses less energy to treat water than conventional processes.”

“DNA sequencing (metagenomics) can help operators that are trying to do BNR in their plant finally see the bacteria that are necessary for that process,” said Trevor Ghylin, Ph.D., P.E., founder and chief technology officer, Microbe Detectives. “Without DNA data it’s really hard to know what’s going on in a plant. You can see phosphorus levels going down but you don’t know if that’s just normal biological uptake or are your chemicals doing something? With DNA data you can actually see you have the biological phosphorous bacteria in there, there’s only a couple different types to do that. Either you’ve got them or you don’t and you can see how many are, and you can track those populations over time. The same goes for ammonia removers and denitrifying bacteria.”

“A really great success story of using metagenomics in wastewater treatment and resource recovery involves a facility outside of Dallas, Texas,” Downing said. “They’ve been doing metagenomic sequencing for about three years now and over that period of time they’ve used that to understand their ecology and give them confidence in operating their facility in a different way. With that they’ve been able to change operational strategies that reduced annual costs by three-hundred and sixty-thousand dollars a year.” 

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