Bio-augmentation: An Emerging Industrial Wastewater Treatment Strategy

biological wastewater treatment

Wastewater management is one of the major global challenges faced by developed as well as developing countries today. Rapid industrialization has led to extensive industrial wastewater generation which is one of the leading causes of water pollution. Also, stringent treatment regulations are now in place for sewage and industrial effluent being released in the environment. Thus, an effective industrial wastewater treatment strategy is important.

In the past few years, harnessing the power of microorganisms for sustainable and efficient biological wastewater treatment has received significant attention. However, it has limitations such as failure to remove certain specific pollutants efficiently. To overcome the limitations, bio-augmentation has emerged as an effective solution that can enhance the degradation capability of microorganisms , increasing overall biological treatment efficiency. 

What is Bio-augmentation?

Bio-augmentation can be defined as the addition of specific supplementary microorganisms into the wastewater treatment system, improving the efficiency of the contaminant degradation in an activated sludge process. In the context of industrial wastewater systems, bio-augmentation helps in the degradation and removal of pollutants such as recalcitrant compounds. 

Generally, numerous strains of bacteria naturally exist in industrial wastewater effluent. They gradually become capable of handling the degradation of contaminants over a period of time, assuming a steady-state. However, some pollutants are capable of resisting biological degradation due to factors such as high toxicity, low water solubility and complex chemical structures. Thus, a wide variety of microorganisms are necessary for their bio-degradation. This is where bio-augmentation helps. 

Bio-augmentation products consist of multiple strains of isolated bacteria and fungi, and it works to create a gradual shift in the microbial population. Thus, bio-augmentation can be used to overcome high COD/BOD levels caused due to specific and dominant pollutants in the treatment system.

Also, it is important to note that industrial wastewater treatment plants most often do not operate at steady-state conditions. Multiple factors like rapid urbanization, the mixture of recalcitrant and toxic compounds and changing characteristics of influent every day affects the steady-state. Thus, supplementary microorganisms with specific capacities in the bio-augmentation process can improve the performance of processes like  activated sludge process .

Factors Affecting Bio-augmentation 

1)Strain selection: This is a key component for the success of bio-augmentation as selected strains should be able to withstand all effluent parameters and microbial pressures. Applications include the use of either a combination of strains to replicate a natural community with multiple pathways of degradation or, a single strain when there is a need to degrade a specific compound. 

2)Operational Parameters: The success of the application is also based on knowing all wastewater effluent characteristics and operational parameters well. It would help understand potential obstacles such as toxicity and nutrient availability for the microbial consortium. 

3)Dosing location, size and regime: Dosing location should be selected after carefully assessing the environmental conditions required for the selected strains. Dosing size and the regime is important for the initial inoculum to be large enough to handle system pressures without disturbing the natural ecosystem. After the initial dose, maintenance doses may be required to maintain the inoculated strain populations, which may reduce due to sludge wasting.

Also Read : How is Biotechnology Used in Sewage Treatment

Benefits of Bioaugmentation

1) Increase in solid settling efficiency: Reductions in the polymer demand for the purpose of settling through inoculating systems with organisms known to have excellent floc forming ability with high resistance to toxicity.

2) Degradation of specific compounds: Addition of selective microorganisms to target specific compounds such as chlorinated aromatics, phenols that cannot be degraded by indigenous microbial populations. 

3)Improved Nitrification: Good levels of ammonia removal can be maintained through the regular addition of nitrifying bacteria.

Bio-augmentation is a high potential industrial wastewater treatment strategy for the removal of pollutants from wastewater. The environment-friendly approach augurs well for the future of wastewater treatment as well. 

Organica Biotech is one of the leading companies developing efficient wastewater treatment solutions.  Our Cleanmaxx range of products from Organica Biotech operates on the bioaugmentation and bioremediation method of treatment. Through the bioaugmentation regimem superior strains of bacteria are introduced to develop a diversified bacterial community capable of degrading difficult compounds in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

Also Read:
What Is Biological Wastewater Treatment And How Effective It Is?
Understanding Hydraulic Loading in Wastewater Treatment Plants
The Role Of Clarifiers In Wastewater Treatment Plants
Aerobic Granular Sludge Technology: The Future Of Wastewater Treatment

Post by Karen Sam