Microbe Detectives, along with support from CH2M and Donohue & Associates is conducting a multi-client study focused on optimizing Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) programs at municipal wastewater treatment facilities. Here are the basics:
What are we providing?
An ability to optimize your BNR program by directly measuring and monitoring microbes that remove phosphorus (BioP) and nitrogen, using next generation DNA sequencing. A multi-client summary report “Performance Comparison of Bio Nutrient Removal Systems Using Next Generation DNA Sequencing” – free of charge.
What is the benefit?
This DNA sequencing technology has already enabled annual operating savings in excess of $300,000 for a medium sized municipality by reducing chemicals, energy and solids. See videos below for more information:
BNR + Metagenomics = $360,000 Annual Savings
Biological Nutrient Removal [BNR] What we’re looking at is finding ways to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater biologically instead of chemically. That results in a lower net resource consumption. It also allows us to actually recover phosphorus and nitrogen. Instead of treating it, where we are removing it from the water but have another environmental impact (which is the disposal of solid waste), it actually allows us to concentrate those nutrients, pull them out, and get them back into the fertilizer cycle. Biological Nutrient Removal really drives a lot that is protecting the waterways. It’s recovering valuable resources and at the end of day it actually uses less energy to treat water than conventional processes.
A really great success story of using metagenomics in wastewater treatment and resource recovery involves a facility outside of Dallas, Texas. They’ve been doing metagenomic sequencing for about three years now and over that period of time they’ve used that to understand their ecology and give them confidence in operating their facility in a different way. With that they’ve been able to change operational strategies that reduced annual costs by three-hundred and sixty-thousand dollars a year.
Trevor Ghylin, Ph.D., P.E.
Founder/CTO, Microbe Detectives
How can DNA sequencing help BNR operators?
DNA sequencing can help operators that are trying to do BNR in their plant finally see the bacteria that are necessary for that process. Without DNA data it’s really hard to know what’s going on in a plant. You can see phosphorus levels going down but you don’t know if that’s just normal biological uptake or are your chemicals doing something? With DNA data you can actually see you have the biological phosphorous bacteria in there, there’s only a couple different types to do that. Either you’ve got them or you don’t and you can see how many are, and you can track those populations over time. The same goes for ammonia removers and denitrifying.
1. Order DNA Analysis for Study
After receipt of order, we will ship our kit to you which contains supplies for collecting samples.
2. Collect Representative Sample
Wear gloves to prevent contamination. For liquid samples, use instructions below. For solids, add sample and yellow dessicant card to the Whirl-Pak bag and seal.
3. Fill out Chain of Custody Card
Add Whirl-Pak bag or filter housing (dry off housing with a clean paper towel first) to zip loc bag with completed COC form and yellow desiccant card. EACH SAMPLE AND COC CARD MUST BE KEPT IN SEPARATE BAGS.
4. Register and Enter Sample Data
Sample ID number is on the red label, located on the COC card. Enter data for each sample in Study Registration, please note we cannot process until study registration is completed.
5. Ship to Microbe Detectives
Freeze samples taken to ship all at once, or ship samples overnight individually (Monday-Thursday) to:
Microbe Detectives c/o STUDY
935 Curtiss Street, Suite 3
Downers Grove, IL 60515
DNA Analysis Kit
DNA analysis of submitted sample, includes kit with collection supplies.
DNA analysis of submitted sample, includes kit with collection supplies. The DNA Analysis will be produced by a doctoral-level application expert and will include a summary of the total data, focusing on bacteria that are typically important in water systems. The full data is also provided in a spreadsheet. Data presented are bacterial relative abundance (% of total bacteria in the sample). For example 0.12% Actinobacteria means that 0.12% of bacteria in the sample are Actinobacteria. Interpretation of the results that is application specific is communicated in a detailed report via email. Consulting services are available for an additional fee, subject to a scope of work, contact us to discuss options.
|Dimensions||6.5 x 4.5 x 1.5 in|
Performance Comparison of Bio Nutrient Removal Systems – Available June 2018
Comparative study of bio nutrient removal (BNR) systems based on DNA sequencing of samples collected. Includes the DNA sequencing results of each sample, grouped and analyzed for each BNR program. Survey data will be included to augment DNA testing. Available in June 2018.
Instructions for Collecting Liquid Samples:
John Tillotson, CEO of Microbe Detectives, recently got together with wastewater expert Leon Downing, PhD., CH2M, to get his perspectives on using DNA analysis in BNR programs.
Why is DNA sequencing important to the wastewater industry?
I think it’s really in the understanding of new processes so we can come up with a new idea of how we might be able to treat water more efficiently and recover resources from it more effectively. It’s being able to understand the biology that’s present and getting a better sense of who’s really there. This helps us to better understand the process and not make it a “black box.” This gives us more confidence to apply technologies more rapidly and to to accelerate adoption. That’s a big part of it. The other part is the optimization component, where we have existing processes they aren’t working as well as we need them to, and figuring out how to make them work better.
What are the energy savings of BNR program?
10 to 15 % of the aeration energy, which is half the total plant energy. So it’s not getting rid of energy, but it’s every little bit that makes a big impact as we try to move towards less and less energy intensive processes.
What are the impacts of BNR on chemicals and solids?
By going to biological processes we don’t have to add a lot of expensive iron salts or aluminium salts into our water. We’re making it more of a natural process with the biology, not having to bring in chemicals and that also reduces the chemical sludge that we make. From a utility perspective, the main driver is an overall cost benefit, but from an environmental standpoint it also reduces our impact of treating and reclaiming water.
Why is DNA sequencing (metagenomics) needed with a BNR program?
It really comes down to understanding the biology that’s there. We’ve learned a lot over the past decades on how these processes work from an overall perspective, and how to operate them, but we’ve always been trying to just kind of infer what bacteria are present. As we try to be more innovative, using smaller tanks, using less energy, we’re selecting for a different ecology than we have in the past. Without being able to understand those changes and understand who’s there, it’s very difficult to find better ways to do things. With metagenomics, and with the ease of being able to get these samples, it helps us to really understand what is going on, for instance, when we’re shifting from an old population to a new population because the old population couldn’t make things work under our new conditions. At the end of the day, metagenomics gives the utility the confidence they need to invest tens of millions of dollars in a new technology, that in the end will save them money. They need that confidence to invest rate-payer’s money.
What is the public benefit of metagenomics?
The public benefit for metagenomics really comes down to the bottom line. That’s one part of it, right, just the fact that understanding the biology in a biological system helps you to operate it more efficiently and potentially design smaller tanks, so it cost less. The check you write out for your bill at the end of the month can be reduced. The environmental impacts are also a huge component of this. By understanding the biology that’s there, we can try to concentrate our nutrients and recover them. Instead of just fixing more and more nitrogen from the atmosphere and mining more and more phosphorus, we can actually fix those nutrients from a wastewater treatment process and return them back to the cycle. In addition to the environmental aspect of this, there is also a social benefit. When you think about clean waterways, I think a lot of people forget that the Cuyahoga River used to start on fire, right, or that Lake Erie was dead, and now even the Chicago River has people kayaking on it. So again, using metagenomics, to understand the biology and clean water to a higher level, benefits everyone and the use of our natural resources.