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Using Biology In Wastewater Treatment Plants

We’ve often talked about how everything that happens in a treatment plant depends on biology. Increased plant capacity, lowered electricity demand, and getting more efficiency out of your digesters by starting the treatment as far upstream as possible in the collection system.

But what we need to talk more about is how incredible the biology is that is going into these plants, and what they really bring to the process.

We rely on microorganisms in wastewater found in nature to do the heavy lifting of removing organic compounds and nutrients harmful to wildlife (such as nitrogen and phosphorous) in order to produce clean water that can be discharged back into our waterways.

However, most of this microbiology is derived only from what comes in from the sewer collection system - which is made up of mostly human fecal matter (which is more than 50% bacteria), groundwater infiltration, and kitchen food waste.

The Reality Of Bacteria-Use In Wastewater Plants

The vast majority of fecal bacteria are strictly anaerobic (which means it works only in the absence of oxygen) and is very inefficient in metabolizing organic compounds.

The few aerobic (works only with oxygen) and facultative (works with and without oxygen) microbes must be encouraged to grow in the treatment plant through the use of various recycling schemes and control of oxygen levels.

This means that large amounts of air must be blown into basins of wastewater to create the right level of conditions for the right kind of microbes to do their job. In many cases, the electricity needed for this can be up to 50% of the entire cost to operate the plant. In fact, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that almost 5% of the entire electricity demand of the United States is used to treat wastewater.

But what if it was possible to reduce the amount of organic material that entered the treatment plant, and reinforce the plant microbial community with huge quantities of much more efficient facultative bacteria?

It would mean that treatment plants could increase their rated capacity, and remove the same amount of organic material and nutrients with less need for aeration. That means major expense saving for the plant as a whole.

How In-Pipe Bacteria Is Different

In-Pipe Technology controls the biofilm within the collection system using bacteria that are common to the soil. While these bacteria may be present in sewer systems, they are not present in great enough populations to have much influence.

The In-Pipe bacteria are facultative and thrive whether oxygen is present or not. Moreover, they grow quickly and, when added to high concentrations on a continuous basis, quickly dominate the entire sewer system. Their growth and activity convert carbon into carbon dioxide and nitrogen compounds into gaseous nitrogen, all without energy input.

Because In-Pipe’s bacteria do not require oxygen to perform, aeration energy at the treatment plant is greatly reduced. The highly efficient microcosm brought about by In-Pipe is capable of processing a far greater amount of carbon and nitrogen per gram of mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS) than any microcosm coaxed into existence from the usual wastewater microbiology.

What Else In-Pipe Can Do For Wastewater Plants

In-Pipe Technology’s bioaugmentation process converts the collection system into an active part of the wastewater treatment process.

It converts the passive sewer system into a significant treatment step by utilizing miles of the existing pipe to start the process of breaking down wastewater as it travels to the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).

Biochemical processes (i.e., biodegradation and/or bioconversion based on the availability of an electron acceptor) in the collection system provide increased additional capacity within the plant, forestall costly upgrades, and extend the life of existing infrastructure. IPT offers sustainable solutions to the collection systems and WWTP challenges without additional energy input and capital expansion.

While sewers are often seen as merely a means of conveyance to the wastewater treatment plant, they actually provide similar treatment capabilities analogous to:

  • a trickling filter, i.e: the attached growth process of sewer biofilm, and

  • activated sludge, due to suspended growth processes in the bulk water phase of the waste stream

To transform a passive conveyance system into an active part of the treatment process, IPT introduces a specific blend of nonpathogenic, spore-forming (US patent 5578211) bacillus bacteria at strategic locations throughout the sewer collection system using patented technology (US patent 5788841) that intensifies the activity of the existing biofilm and suspension bacteria, and out-competes non-beneficial bacteria for nutrients. This process of external microbial addition is known as bioaugmentation.

Working With In-Pipe Technology

Your sewer collection system is a large bioreactor. If it is not an active part of your treatment process today, it should be.

Create an extra treatment step by using your entire collection system to build the health of your microbial community. Harnessing the biological reactions that are already happening upstream can give you a much better result – a cost-effective and more predictable effluent compliance program.

In-Pipe Technology offers an innovative natural biological solution to this persistent problem. Unlike other treatment processes, In-Pipe’s product starts working the moment waste enters the collection system, turning it into an efficient bioreactor that keeps on working until the end stages of wastewater in-plant treatment.

If you’re constantly battling nutrient levels at your plant, the In-Pipe method delivers critical headway against regulatory ceilings. In-Pipe will continually put highly efficient bacteria in your system well before the wastewater comes into the plant. The collection system will reach its full potential as a large biological reactor, which can lead to additional plant efficiencies.

Ultimately, with In-Pipe, you’re reducing effluent loads before they even enter into the plant by making your system work harder. We help compliant plants function more efficiently and non-compliant plants to achieve their targets by reducing influent organic loading and effluent pollutant levels.

Contact us today to get your own custom microbial solution from In-Pipe!

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