DNA Analysis of Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR)



BNR DNA Analysis

BNR in wastewater and other systems is governed by its unique microbial community to manage polluting nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorous. With Microbe Detectives’ BNR DNA Analysis, one can attain an intimate understanding of their system’s microbial community to develop best practices and optimize performance.

Problems with Nutrient Management & Biological Nutrient Removal

Nutrient pollution is one of the world’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems, and is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the air and water. Wastewater is a primary source. Traditional methods for removing nutrients from wastewater involve precipitating chemical treatments which are toxic, and create excess costs for biosolids disposal, chemical treatment and aeration energy. Modern strategies for removing nutrients from wastewater leverage naturally forming microbes to do this work referred to as Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR). BNR processes enable more efficient, resilient, and sustainable water reclamation and resource recovery systems. However, BNR microbes are not identifiable with field microscopes nor other standard test methods.

Advancements in Molecular Test Methods

Advancements in molecular methods (i.e., DNA analysis) have opened a new window to the microbial world of water. Our 2.0 DNA Analysis identifies and quantifies nearly all bacteria and archaea that are important in a BNR process using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and qPCR. We also identify and quantify eukaryotic organisms such as Protists (Protozoa, Amoeba, Algae) and Fungi for BNR systems requiring diagnostics on higher life forms. 

Key Benefits of BNR DNA Analysis

Know who’s there, how many, and what they are doing

Identify and quantify nearly all microbes important in the biological removal of phosphorus and nitrogen.

  • Fermenting Bacteria Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Propionicimonas, Propionivibrio, Streptococcus, and Tetrasphaera produce Volatile Fatty Acids (VFAs), the essential food for phosphorus consuming microbes.
  • Phosphorus Bacteria Accumulibacter, Accumulimonas, Corynebacterium, Dechloromonas, Obscuribacter, Rhodocyclus, and Tetrasphaera are referred to as Polyphosphate Accumulating Organisms (PAOs). They remove phosphorus from the waste stream (BioP), reduce or eliminate the need for phosphorus precipitating chemicals, and improve the efficiency of phosphorus recovery and return to the fertilizer cycle. Glycogen Accumulating Organisms (GAOs) Competibacter, Contendobacter, Defluviicoccus, Micropruina, and Propionivibrio compete with PAOs but do not remove phosphorus from the waste stream. GAOs are generally considered detrimental to a BioP process.
  • Nitrogen Bacteria remove ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and elemental nitrogen from the wastestream. Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria (AOBs) and Archaea (AOAs) Brocadia, Nitrosococcus, Nitrosomonas, Nitrosospira, Nitrosovibrio, Nitrosoarchaeum, Nitrosocaldus, Nitrosopumilus, and Nitrososphaera oxidize ammonia to nitrite, removing ammonia from the waste stream. Nitrite Oxidizing Bacteria (NOBs) Brocadia, Nitrobacter, Nitrospira, and Nitrotoga oxidize nitrite to nitrate. Nitrate Reducing Bacteria (NRBs) Nitratireductor, Nitratiruptor, and Thauera reduce nitrate to elemental nitrogen which is released to atmosphere. Some bacteria can complete the nitrification process in one step instead of the industry standard two-step process, potentially saving $millions in CAPEX and $hundreds of thousands in OPEX (See: Case Study). These include Anammox bacteria Brocadia, Kuenenia, Anammoxoglobus, Jettenia and Scalindua; Commamox bacteria Nitrospira; and a variety of other bacteria.

Discover answers to questions and problems that you have been unable to solve

Use BNR DNA analysis to quantify impacts to BNR performance of changes in waste streams discharged to your plant. Are they toxic to BNR microbes? Quantify BNR impacts from changes in process design, operations, or treatment.

Minimize or eliminate nutrient removal chemicals

Save $thousands to $hundreds of thousands in chemical costs each year.

Reduce aeration energy costs by 10 to 15%+

Aeration is the most energy intensive operation in wastewater treatment. By having intimate knowledge of your BNR ecology, aeration costs can be reduced 10 – 15% and sometimes much more.

Key Industries with Wastewater BNR Opportunities

Municipal, food processing, agricultural, and industrial wastewater treatment systems.

Example BNR DNA Analysis Dashboards

Data is presented in tables to provide details. Dashboards show how BNR processes change over time, and how they compare to other similar processes. Below are a few examples.

fermenting bacteria
phosphorus bacteria
nitrogen bacteria ammonia
nitrite oxidation
nitrite one step nitrification
Estimated capital costs of a BNR system was reduced by $35 million plus $490,000 was saved in annual operating expenses.

Learn from experts how DNA sequencing can help operators improve Wastewater BNR performance by clicking on the below videos.

Leon Downing, Ph.D., Process and Innovation Leader, Black & Veatch

Trevor Ghylin, Ph.D., P.E. Founder, Microbe Detectives

Your Microbiome Analyst will provide guidance on the DNA analysis methods that will meet your needs and objectives.