We’ve all heard that time is money. Well, the saying certainly holds true when starting up a new wastewater system. Finding and transporting a quality MLSS to provide a base seed often creates logistics issues. Then operators have to closely monitor as the biomass adapts and shifts into the proper population for the system. Aster Bio can help. Adding carefully screened microbes with proven performance can cut commissioning time in half and lower costs.
A new process unit, changes in production type, or a new customer tying into the treatment system – all are examples of a new waste for the biological unit. If the waste is significantly different or makes up a large portion of the influent, the bacteria take time to respond and the population to stabilize. In cases where the acclimation time can be a problem, Aster Bio can work to provide a pre-acclimated seed culture that avoids the lag time seen in biological systems facing a new waste stream.
No matter how much you try to keep people from putting grease into a sewer system it still seems to happen. Grease accumulation tends to happen in problem areas, usually downstream from high-density housing and restaurants. Grease often requires both worker time and chemicals to push the grease downstream to the wastewater plant. And, at times the grease can cause a sanitary sewer overflow (SSO). Aster Bio has developed an enhanced SSO prevention program by adding a combination of grease-degrading bacteria upstream of problem lines and lift stations. Using either an automated or manual dosing, grease can be brought under control for less cost than manual cleaning, jetting and chemical sewer foams.
In addition to grease, collection systems often have anaerobic zones that produce H2S, mercaptans, and other malodorous organic acids. While in the line, the sulfides promote corrosion and pose a hazard to workers. Once mixed in a lift station or head works, the odors are released to the atmosphere causing odor complaints. Many solutions have been proposed including absorbants, masking agents, oxidants and metabolic inhibitors. Aster Bio works with a time-tested technology by using nitrate as an alternative electron acceptor. The customer simply selects a local source of nitrate (it is a commodity chemical – there is no special technology here). After sourcing the nitrate, Aster Bio works to educate operators on Redox (ORP) control and how we can disfavor sulfide and short-chain, organic acid-producing bacteria. To lower the amount of nitrate needed and improve the removal of existing odorous compounds, Aster Bio will often add a unique microbial blend containing sulfur oxidizing and organic acid degrading cultures that can utilize nitrate in addition to oxygen. The effect is akin to adding a catalyst to help nitrate remove odors most effectively.
Often biological system shortcomings are addressed by adding polymers or antifoams. Loss of good floc formation and desirable settling rates are often the first signs of a stressed biomass. Often facilities use polymers, nutrient addition, increased aeration, or RAS chlorination as the only tools to address the problems. While adding bioaugmentation products has been an option for many years, Aster Bio’s new Environmental Genomics™ technology allows a more effective tool to control biomass inefficiency. Using the results of Environmental Genomics™ testing and a system audit, Aster Bio can custom formulate a bioaugmentation product to improve system control.
Effluent toxicity testing relies on sensitive organisms for evaluation of acute and chronic toxicity. In facilities with complex waste streams, effluent toxicity can be a problem. In some cases, the biological unit can create soluble intermediates that are more toxic than the influent compounds. If the biomass cannot finish the degradation process, the effluent can become toxic to test organisms. As a part of our testing protocols, Aster Bio can use quick tests such as Tox-Bac™ and Tox-N™ to correlate the effluent with bioassay testing to estimate effluent toxicity. In systems with known problems with recalcitrant toxic compounds and toxic intermediates, Aster Bio can work to increase biomass efficiency with bioaugmentation. Coupled with good system operation, Aster Bio’s bioaugmentation programs can often prevent bioassay failure.
Spills happen in any process. If the spill is not caught in the equalization tank or if the slug originates from the EQ tank, the biological unit can lose a significant portion of the active biomass. Even in the most “active” activated sludge units, only 15 percent of the MLVSS is composed of living bacteria. A toxic or hydraulic shock can push the active biomass below needed levels. The result is an initial decrease in oxygen uptake followed by high oxygen uptakes per unit biomass as they work to restore the proper population. Aster Bio’s bioaugmentation technologies work to speed up the biomass restoration. The restored biomass helps avoid permit excursions, reduces the need to stop influent flow, and can eliminate the need to hold influent in holding tanks while the biological unit population is restored.
Crude oil, fuels, and other organic chemicals are accidentally released on soils and surface waters. In this case, a rapid respond by excavation and pumping can reduce the threat to the local environment. However, off-site disposal is expensive and has risks associated with transport and long-term storage.
In cases were the cleanup timeframe is flexible (due to low risk to the surrounding environment), in-situ bioremediation offers a lower cost, less risky way to clean up the spill. Aster Bio has worked on various technologies including land farming, pump and treat, and slurry injection to remediate many common contaminants at a lower cost than off-site disposal or incineration. The process requires a site survey and building a remediation plan. Once implemented, the site receives a nutrient package and microbial inoculum. Over the next 28- 90 days the pollutants are converted into new cells, water, and carbon dioxide by the microbes. By adding in a microbial inoculum, the on-site remediation time is decreased and end treatment results have less variation than relying solely on indigenous microbes.
Solids including microbial biomass, influent organics, and inorganics can build up in lagoons or ponds, thus reducing hydraulic residence time (HRT). Often we wait until solids impact water quality and only then undertake the expense of dredging, dewatering and disposing of solids. For years, facilities have evaluated various additives and processes designed to “bio-dredge” the lagoon solids. Most have failed or been marginally beneficial but not cost effective.
Aster Bio brings our science-based background to performing bio-dredging with a technology that is well understood and based on real science. First, Aster Bio’s process only works on the organic fraction of the solids. Lagoons having high levels of silt, clay or sand will not benefit from the approach. Next, low-velocity/high-volume mixing is required to expose the solids to aerobic/anoxic/anaerobic steps – where contact with living microbes is maximized.
Finally, if required, Aster Bio adds micronutrients and cultures to accelerate breakdown of organics and water release from the sludge. The process takes longer than physical dredging, but can be a good way to keep sludge from building up following dredging or when remediating a lagoon in non-critical shape. Most importantly, biological dredging costs less.
Anaerobic and aerobic sludge digesters are used to condition/degrade solids prior to dewatering or off-site disposal. If the digesters are not performing to design specifications, Aster Bio can evaluate the biomass and determine the problem’s origin. In the case of many anaerobic digesters, adding a micronutrient blend greatly increases methane production (which is indicative of solids destruction). In aerobic digesters, we often find water entrained by grease in the floc. In this case, adding a microbial package with micronutrients enhances the dewatering characteristics of the sludge.
COD and solids are removed best in healthy anaerobic digesters producing significant quantities of methane. The methanogens (methane producing microbes) require several micronutrients for growth that can be in limited supply in wastewater. Testing for these micronutrients can determine if this is the problem and if so, how to fix it with a targeted micronutrient blend.
In other cases, the digester has a buildup of waste without sufficient volatile fatty acid and hydrogen production (feedstock for the methanogens). In this case, adding facultative anaerobes and acid-forming cultures can help improve digester efficiency. Aster Bio can develop programs to address both micronutrient and acid production deficiencies; thereby, improving methane production.
Fats, oils & grease (FOG) are well known for entrapping water in sludge. The result is a high-volume sludge that tends to form a scum on the secondary clarifiers as the specific gravity of sludge is reduced by the grease. While a common option is to add chemical polymers to improve settling and dewatering performance, Aster Bio offers biochemical solutions to help solubilize the FOG and speed up biodegradation rates. Our wastewater FOG technology relies on a combination of microbes, biosurfactants and enzymes that immediately target the offending compounds. By removing entrapped water during aerobic biological treatment, the sludge going to the press will be much better conditioned and require less polymer to effectively dewater.
Maintaining dissolved oxygen and mixing in aerobic units represents one of the most significant costs in biological treatment. The goal is to keep biomass in a spot where oxygen uptake rates and cell division are minimized yet not carrying excess solids in the treatment unit. In systems with varying influent concentration and makeup, keeping the biomass in decline phase growth proves a challenge. Aster Bio can work to supply bioaugmentation products that can help maintain the system in an ideal state, which maximizes aeration efficiency, thereby, saving on utility costs.
Bulking is often a problem in biological treatment. Factors such as waste makeup, unbalanced C:N:P ratios, low D.O., or high FOG can lead to filamentous bulking or high levels of extracellular polymers in non-filamentous bulking. Often facilities add chlorine or hypochlorite to the RAS line to disinfect the filaments. While effective, it does not solve the problem at its root cause.
Aster Bio works with facilities to determine causes of bulking, economically viable methods to correct the causation, and optimize the impact of chlorination. Aster Bio’s advanced biopolymer technology can further help to maintain ideal floc formation using microbes that make their own polymers when added to the biomass. Using Environmental Genomics™ testing, Aster Bio can screen for the ideal biopolymer microbes for the system.
Following hydraulic washout, toxic shock loadings or mechanical failure, the system’s MLSS is often depleted of active microorganisms. In time, the surviving bacteria would return, but this often means diverting influent, slowing production, or adding polymers or other chemicals to mask biological deficiency. Aster Bio’s bioaugmentation technology works in response to loss of biomass viability by adding highly concentrated microbes. With the select microbes added, the system can return to full biological activity in less time and at a lower cost than relying other options.
Chemoautotrophic nitrifiers are among the slowest growing microbes in wastewater systems. Also, they are highly susceptible to changes in loadings, temperature, pH and oxygen levels. Aster Bio has developed a concentrated blend of Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter that can restore the ammonia-oxidizing bacterial population in much less time than waiting on nature to take its course.
New permits are requiring total removal of nitrogen, including nitrate and nitrite. Key to having good removal is proper conversion of ammonia into nitrate by ammonia-oxidizing bacteria. Then, in anoxic zones select facultative organisms use both nitrate and nitrite as an alternative electron acceptor in place of oxygen. Aster Bio has dedicated resources to research the nitrogen cycle dynamics in wastewater treatment systems. Among the outcomes of this research is the ability to provide a concentrate of extremely active denitrification microbes that convert NO3/NO2 into N2 gas.