Natural Bio-Organic treatment for wastewater – an environmental and financial imperative

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Natural Bio-Organic treatment for wastewater - an environmental and financial imperative

By Roger Holden,Director Media and Communications,Solutions Ecologique Limited

One of the most important aspects of ‘managing our water' is the treatment of wastewater created by all of humanity and a large proportion of industry. The water cycle generally sees fresh water extracted from dams, lakes, rivers and aquifers; being used in one form or another; treated after use; and subsequently fed back into the natural environment. It is the quality of this wastewater treatment that determines whether we are improving our water environment or, as happens so often, feeding the water back filled with chemicals, potentially dangerous enzymes and with the wastewater effluent polluted and malodorous.

Why is this? In many parts of the world there is simply no treatment of human or industrial wastewater. The reasons are many and varied but the principal reason is simply a lack of infrastructure. If a country or a region cannot afford to introduce wastewater cleaning, it just doesn't happen.

However, even where there are modern wastewater treatment facilities there can still be unsatisfactory performance issues. These include:

  • Processing volume and load beyond the design specifications of the plant
  • Corrosion and poor maintenance of the operation
  • The failure of the beneficial bacteria to process the BOD/COD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand/Chemical Oxygen Demand) introduced into the plant.

The effect of these failures leads to:

  • High levels of BOD/COD in the effluent
  • The high BOD/COD can lead to anaerobic conditions which produces hydrogen sulphide
  • The high levels of hydrogen sulphide leads to low pH (acidic conditions) and odour issues
  • The acidic condition leads to corrosion of plant infrastructure

Historically there has been a strong reliance on chemical-based solutions to address these water treatment issues. These traditional methods have included the use of:

  • pH adjusters like caustic soda, potassium hydroxide and various acids
  • Iron salts (and equivalents) to remove sulphides from the water column
  • Activated carbon and deodorisers to attempt to absorb or mask the presence of odour
  • Coagulants, flocculants and alum that attempt to lift (or drop) the contaminants out of the water column

These traditional approaches to water treatment all fail in one major respect: They address the symptoms of the failure of the water treatment approach BUT they do not address the root causes.

These approaches are well understood but fundamentally backward in their thinking. A great deal of energy and money is invested in producing, buying, transporting and using these chemicals but a much more efficient mechanism would be to address the root causes of water treatment failure rather than the symptoms.

More recently a much more radical and potentially dangerous approach has been employed to address the failures within water treatment operations.

This approach is based on the use of enzymes.

Enzymes are powerful chemicals. They are characterised in the following manner:

  • Extremely complex in their structure
  • Typically expensive to manufacture, usually from synthetic chemicals
  • Designed to have a powerful impact on specific biological issues

There are significant question marks around the use of enzymes. There is limited longitudinal testing of enzymes and their impacts on the surrounding (and downstream) environment. It is not yet clear if these powerful chemicals have unintended impacts on areas outside the water treatment facilities.

1There are significant municipal concerns relating to the use of surfactants and enzymes in the process of wastewater treatment. Treatment plants utilize different techniques to rid water of impurities. While wastewater treatment plants use the latest technology to remove contaminants from water, there are high costs, and sometimes enforcement of regulations is lax. Still, many municipalities across the country are banning the use of surfactants and enzymes entering wastewater treatment because of the harmful effects these products have on the sewer lines and the damage is costing cities much money in repair.

A question we must ask ourselves!

Given the inefficient, symptom-based treatment methods of traditional chemicals and the risk associated with the powerful enzyme-based treatment methods, is it possible to address some of the root causes of water treatment failure in a more elegant and targeted manner?

Well, in a word, yes.

Solutions Ecologique Limited (SolEco) is a company that seeks to apply natural remedies to situations where other methods either fail to prevent pollution, or come at a heavy cost. Its goal is to assist companies, individuals, groups and governments restore the environment or minimise environmental impact, wherever our 21st century way of life spreads.

The company delivers solutions for a variety of wastewater environments in many industry and domestic sectors, solving problems associated with: sewage; malodours; grease, fat and oil accumulation; bio-solids; infrastructure maintenance; and effluent environmental issues.

First though, let us look at some of the terminology many companies use when attempting to brand their products as ‘green'.

ORGANIC - this is probably the word applied the most and often without foundation. In the agricultural and food preparation industry the use of the word ORGANIC is strictly defined and controlled by a regulated set of criteria that must be adhered to before it can be employed. Unfortunately, there are no such regulations in the wastewater industry and thus the term may be loosely used. Scientifically, ORGANIC simply means ‘relating to or derived from living matter', however, it is now being used to differentiate from chemical products and imply it is more ‘green', ‘better for you' or ‘harmless'.

NATURAL - A word that is also loosely used with no specific meaning…….but often with the intimation it is not "chemical" based.

BIOLOGICAL - It is unclear if this term is used to imply the raw material/active ingredient is plant/animal derived or that the activity it generates is biological in nature.

SolEco developed and manufactures Solutek, a unique solution like none other in that it encompasses the optimal balance between all things green:

  • Organic (pure) - The main/active ingredient produced from sustainably harvested ocean kelp which is raised without the use of chemical fertilisers or pesticides
  • Organic (living matter) - Sea kelp
  • Natural - Not chemical based
  • Biological (source) - solution produced from sustainably harvested marine kelp
  • Biological (activity) - stimulate the growth and reproductive rate of beneficial aerobic bacteria

This NATURAL BIO-ORGANIC concentrate does NOT contain ‘live-cell' bacteria (bio-culture) or enzyme concoctions and cannot introduce renegade bacteria into any water treatment system.

Water pollutants, including human waste, food manufacturing waste and other industrial waste typically react with dissolved oxygen in the water column. These reactions create a demand for oxygen in the wastewater typically measured as BOD and COD.There is a need to remove these pollutants, which leads to the dissolved oxygen remaining in the water column.

Different types of bacteria are present in these wastewater streams. Their populations thrive or struggle depending on the pH and the availability of food sources and oxygen. Soleco has found it can massively increase the growth rates of one type of bacteria - facultative anaerobes - by the addition of Solutek. Solutek acts as a growth enhancer for this group of bacteria.

These bacteria grow more quickly, grow to a larger size and reproduce more often with the addition of Solutek. As a result, the bacteria are able to digest the pollutants more quickly and leave more of the dissolved oxygen in the water.

It works by the use of an entirely NATURAL BIO-ORGANIC mechanism to massively stimulate beneficial bacteria already present in the water column. This has the effect of:

  • Digesting the carbonaceous contaminants in the effluent
  • Keeping the oxygen in the water and avoiding anaerobic conditions
  • Preventing the formation of hydrogen sulphide and the acidic conditions associated with it
  • And most importantly, it works with the natural biology rather than introducing potentially unknown consequences through the use of enzymes

As a result, Solutek addresses the failures of water treatment plants at the root cause of these issues as compared to the symptomatic approach of using traditional chemicals.

It harnesses the strength of natural bacterial processes, rather than relying on the use of powerful chemicals such as enzymes that could lead to unintended consequences.

It acts as a CELL SIGNALLING AGENT to help stimulate the growth and reproductive rate of beneficial bacteria. Those bacteria then out-compete problematic bacteria to help keep the oxygen in the water.

This has the following impacts on polluted waters:

  • Reduces anaerobic conditions so that hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg gas) formation is greatly reduced. This removes one of the key agents for the corrosion of steel and reinforced concrete in the treatment system
  • Helps the beneficial bacteria consume carbonaceous waste and oils and grease from the water column
  • Helps keep the oxygen in the water creating a significant improvement in BOD/COD in the water or effluent
  • This partnership with effective biology can limit the need to aerate the water with power-intensive mechanical engineering approaches (thus reducing electricity costs)

It has been proven to have a significant beneficial impact in many industry areas apart from Sewage wastewater, including:

  • Dairy industry (dairy farms as well as in milk processing)
  • Abattoirs and meat processing
  • Aquaculture and keeping aquariums clean
  • Within the Piggery industry
  • Poultry farming
  • Mining camps
  • Frac water hydrocarbon treatment

Many of these applications will be examined in future blogs in detail and with a description of the Results and Outcomes but as an example: an industry study completed recently in the Dairy industry showed that, apart from saving the company around $500,000 a year in reduced down time and increased productivity, there was:

  • Elimination of dense floating organic rafts within the treatment plant tankage
  • Substantial ( 89%) reduction in Oil and Grease
  • Reduction ( 78%) in Biochemical Oxygen Demand
  • Reduction ( 56%) in Chemical Oxygen Demand
  • Reduction in Odour within the plant
  • Reduction ( 85%) in Total Suspended Solids
  • Reduction (and then elimination) in coagulant used at the plant
  • Reduction ( 19%) in Phosphorus
  • Aerobic and Homogeneous effluent presented to the treatment plant.

These natural bio-organics are:

  • 100% bio-degradable
  • User and environmentally safe
  • Non-hazardous
  • Non-flammable and
  • Non-corrosive

They reduce the high costs associated with traditional wastewater treatment, such as:

  • Manufacturing, purchasing and transporting expensive chemicals
  • Maintenance down-time and labour
  • Capital works/infrastructure replacement
  • Power used to drive mechanical processes

And they offer a win-win solution in wastewater environments of all types because of:

  • Dramatic reduction in odour and corrosive environment chemistry
  • Deep savings over the long term for infrastructure/system overhaul/replacement costs
  • A 100% NATURAL BIO-ORGANIC solution safe to use and "GREEN"
  • Impressive cost vs benefit analysis
  • Ease of testing/deployment and speed of environment/system transformation

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- About Author :Roger Holden,Director Media and Communications,Solutions Ecologique Limited

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