News Feature | January 12, 2018

Microbe-Filled Beads Could Be Biosolids Solution For Wastewater Plants

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

A new chemical solution has emerged that might help wastewater treatment operations deal with biosolids.

The breakthrough is, in essence, beads filled with microbes that are capable of consuming wastewater biosolids. Massive surface areas (nearly 12 football fields worth of surface per pound of material according to the researchers) allows for a giant microbe concentration that can be 100 times greater than that provided by liquid products, per Chemical Engineering.

“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,” explained Luka Erceg, the president of Drylet, the San Francisco-based developer of the technology, according to the report.

The microbes are reported to reduce sludge volumes by 50 percent. This reduction could lower costs for biosolids disposal, equipment maintenance, and energy costs. Erceg claims that product would also yield reduced ammonia emissions, which would mean reduced need to use chemical bleach at wastewater operations.

The beads are critical for allowing the microbes inside to thrive and eventually consume the wastewater sludge.

“Microbes within the porous network are protected from attack by other bacteria and protists in the water and can grow quickly,” per Chemical Engineering. “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… These are more active than ‘older’ microbes.”

The report did not indicate when the solution might be available for widespread use at wastewater treatment operations. When it is, it may be a welcome addition to biosolids-fighting arsenals.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Sludge And Biosolids Processing Solutions Center.

Image credit: “bio-remediation-clean-up-bacteria(5),” Daniel Jones, 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: