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Microbe-impregnated matrices reduce biosolids in wastewater

By Scott Jenkins |

High-surface-area beads filled with microbes are being used to reduce biosolids in wastewater. In one case, Drylet LLC (San Francisco, Calif.; www.drylet.com) has developed engineered porous particles that provide large surface areas (the equivalent of 12 football fields of surface area per pound of material).

Using a proprietary process, the chemically inert particles are loaded with microbes that consume biosolids (sludge) in wastewater applications. The large surface area allows for the remarkably large microbe concentration of 1 × 1011 colony-forming units (cfu) per gram, or about 100 times the concentration of liquid products.

The non-genetically modified microbes convert solid sludge mass into gases and water, reducing sludge volumes by up to 50% with no capital investment, according to the company.

“We are looking to reprogram the microbial communities at wastewater treatment plants to promote the microbial activity of beneficial microbes and help them outcompete those that are less useful,” explains Luka Erceg, president and CEO of Drylet.

Microbes within the porous network are protected from attack by other bacteria and protists in the water and can grow quickly. In addition, the process of introducing the microbes to the solid-bead matrix and the method of use for sludge treatment ensures that first-generation microbes are added each day, Erceg says. These are more active than “older” microbes, he says.

The reduction of biosolids lowers disposal costs, and decreases maintenance requirements and electrical costs, Erceg says. He adds that the impact of the product on reduced ammonia emissions also leads to lower chemical bleach usage.

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