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The Basics Biological Nutrient Removal - In-Pipe Technology

Historically, waste treatment strategies focused on nitrification to reduce Ammonia Nitrogen (NH3), but now our goal has shifted. Conventional techniques are insufficient for preventing the growth of algae and aquatic plants that deplete oxygen levels in sensitive waters - namely by reducing Total Nitrogen and Phosphorus discharges.


To better protect these precious ecosystems, a more rigorous approach is needed! Read on to learn more about the basics of biological nutrient removal and what In-Pipe technology is doing.

Plant operator testing the wastewater nutrient removal process
The Basics Biological Nutrient Removal - In-Pipe Technology

Wastewater Compliance - Biological Nutrient Removal

Permitted levels of wastewater quality may be the focus for many water plants, however controlling the incoming flow is just as crucial. Achieving a satisfactory standard on output can only come from properly managing and monitoring what enters at your facility's doorstep.

Imagine the possibilities of having enhanced wastewater quality in your system! Improved bacteria could rapidly break down organic material, reduce toxic nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous levels, saving you from using expensive chemicals.

Maximize your nutrient removal capabilities by utilizing the capacity of your entire collection system! Learn how you can transform it into a robust bioreactor and make improvements in environmental sustainability.


What does rbCOD have to do With Biological Nutrient Removal?

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) is an essential indicator of the amount of pollutant load entering wastewater treatment plants. By measuring oxygen consumed in mg/l, COD provides a comprehensive reflection of both organic and inorganic matter present within effluent water sources.


COD, or Chemical Oxygen Demand, is comprised of two components: the readily biodegradable COD (rbCOD) and the slowly biodegradable COD (sbCOD). rbCOC consists of small molecules such as acids and sugars which can be quickly consumed by microorganisms.


Meanwhile sbCOC comprises larger molecules that need to be broken down into smaller parts via hydrolysis before they are able to be used for energy in water treatment systems. This process takes longer than immediately available sources but ultimately contributes just as much towards effective wastewater management.


Image depicting Biological Nutrient Removal process
Biological Nutrient Removal Process

Why is rbCOD important to the Nutrient Removal Process?

Wastewater treatment plants require the arduous task of nitrogen and phosphorus removal, or what we are calling biological nutrient removal. rbCOD can offer an efficient aid in this process, utilizing a special set of bacteria under various oxidation-reduction conditions such as nitrification and denitrification to achieve biological nutrient removal.


Plant operators must optimize their reaction processes to minimize discharge of nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants, adhereingto EPA guidelines.


A lack of adequate rbCOD severely impedes denitrification capacity even when the other conditions for successful reactions - such as sufficient reactor volume, specialist microbes and optimal DO levels in aerobic basins- are met. To put it simply: dense nutrition is essential if these “bugs” are going to do their job effectively!


Treatment plants have a significant financial investment in nutrient removal operations, like biological nutrtient removal (BNR) upgrades. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s report released in 2007 reveals an average unit capital cost of $1,742,000 per million gallons per day for small to medium sized treatment plant with capacity between 1 and 10 MGD.


To ensure efficient nitrogen and phosphorous levels are maintained technologies such as ferric chloride or Micro C may be utilized- adding additional strain on finances yet essential for the protection environment from pollutants present within wastewater streams.


How an rbCOD strategy pays off When it Comes Nutrient Removal

Biological treatment of wastewater can be an effective and economical solution for increasing the amount of readily biodegradable COD (rbCOD) entering into a plant.


By treating your collection system like a giant bioreactor, beneficial bacteria is added to convert more organic material from total COD to rbCOD without expending additional time or resources. The result? Think of it as giving probiotics to your sewer system – with improved efficiency!

The addition of beneficial bacteria to the wastewater processing system accelerates crucial processes such as denitrification and phosphorous removal. Microorganisms responsible for removing these pollutants are able to thrive, creating more efficient nutrient removal treatment process.


Optimal nutrient removal can be achieved by adjusting sludge wasting so that a short-term Solids Retention Time (SRT) is maintained in the anaerobic zone - typically around 2 days with Modified Bardenpho systems.


The Benefits of In-Pipe's Biological Nutrient Removal Process

One plant operator made an innovative discovery: the addition of beneficial bacteria reduced rbCOD levels in his system, leading to a substantial drop-off in chemical use for BNR (Biological Nutrient Removal) processes.


As a result, CAPEX and OPEX expenses were significantly lowered - enough that the cost of the new biological solution was completely offset. This allowed him to remain well below local permit regulations for phosphorous discharge at all times!

With this cost-effective bioreactor, your plant's inflows can achieve the necessary phosphorus and nitrogen levels required by regulations. This eliminates the need for additives or costly retrofits to maintain compliance.



To read more on these problems check out In-Pipe's case studies where we've done a deep dive into the challenge, solution, and results from various treatment plants we've worked with in the past.


In-Pipe Technology LLC 725 N. Central Avenue, Wood Dale IL. 60191

Office: 630.509.2488 | Toll free: 888.325.5033 | Fax: 630.509.2490

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