bnr studyMilwaukee, WI – May 31, 2017 – Microbe Detectives LLC announced a new initiative today aimed at advancing Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) programs using its DNA sequencing and analysis services (metagenomics), that have been proven to generate over $300,000 in annual operating savings for a municipal wastewater treatment plant.

This is a multi-client, twelve-month study that will provide municipal wastewater treatment plants an opportunity to optimize and quantify the ROI of an existing BNR program, or when possible retrofit a BNR program in an older treatment plant. Product and service companies that enable or enhance BNR programs, and municipal wastewater treatment plants that currently have a BNR program, or are interested in evaluating a BNR program, are encouraged to join this initiative.

An update on program results will be presented at the Microbiome Water Summit, September 29, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago.

Learn more at

According to Leon Downing, PhD, Senior Technologist, CH2M, “Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) involves 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.”

“DNA sequencing (metagenomics) can help operators that are trying to do BNR in their plant finally see the bacteria that are necessary for that process,” said Trevor Ghylin, PhD, PE, Founder and CTO, Microbe Detectives. “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 bacteria.”

“A really great success story of using metagenomics in wastewater treatment and resource recovery involves a facility outside of Dallas, Texas,” said Dr. Downing. “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.”

For more information contact

About Microbe Detectives

Microbe Detectives enables groundbreaking opportunities to reduce costs, improve energy output, and generate new revenue streams in wastewater, anaerobic digestion, process water, and other biological systems. This is possible by applying our proprietary metagenomics methods that illuminate 80 to 90% of the microbiome of these systems where owners and operators have been accustomed to a best case of <1% visibility.

ROI EXAMPLE: A medium size wastewater municipality was able to optimize its Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) program which enabled an annual savings of $300 thousand. This was achieved by eliminating chemical treatment for nutrient removal, and reducing energy and solids. The client utilized Microbe Detectives’ metagenomic services to measure and monitor BNR microbes, and to optimize their BNR system. This type of measurement was not possible with any of the available standard test methods.

Microbe Detectives graduated from the Water Council’s BREW accelerator in 2014 and is a winner of the Wisconsin Innovation Awards. Join us in exploring the possibilities.