Frequently asked questions
Useful explanations and definitions
What is bioaugmentation?
Bioaugmentation is the practice of adding actively growing, specialized microbial strains into a microbial community in an effort to enhance the ability of the microbial community to respond to process fluctuations or to degrade certain compounds, resulting in improved treatment. By changing the microbial community to include specific microbes, the characteristics of the microbial community can be improved.
Microorganisms are microscopic, free-Iiving organisms that can reproduce if the proper environmental conditions are met. Microorganisms are the most abundant organisms on Earth and there are estimated to be over 5 nonillion (5 x1030) on the planet. Microorganisms are the primary agents of biological wastewater treatment.
Because microorganisms are the heart of any biological wastewater system, it makes sense that by enhancing the microbial community, the overall wastewater system can operate more efficiently. The purpose of bioaugmentation is to supplement the existing microbial community in order to improve its functionality. Bioaugmentation offers many advantages over traditional technology platforms like chemicals, equipment, or other consumables, and has been used in secondary wastewater treatment systems for decades.
The active ingredient in most formulations is live bacteria. These bacteria have been selected from nature for specific capabilities and then adapted to maximize those capabilities in wastewater treatment systems. These highly developed strains are blended in a synergistic combination whereby different strains complement each other to maximize their effectiveness.
The product is very safe. Studies have been conducted to make certain that the strains in Novozymes products are not hazardous to people or animals. This testing includes studies on inhalation, ingestion and skin contact. All of the bacteria are killed by common antibiotics. It is not recommended to expose skin to the product for excessive periods of time and hands should be washed after handling product. Refer to material safety data sheets (MSDS) for product-specific handling details.
Do these microbes grow in the wastewater treatment system?
Bioaugmentation provides a “seeding” effect. That is, the microbes in the initial dosage and subsequent maintenance doses grow and increase in number after they are added to the treatment plant and become incorporated into the existing biomass. They can grow in suspension and help form healthy floc particles and can attach on surfaces and aid in fixed-film treatment systems.
How do Novozymes’ products react with microbes already present?
Products are used in applications where microbes can survive. Every aspect of our environment that can support microbial growth has already established a population of “naturally occurring” strains. Novozymes’ uses bioaugmentation products in these niches when they want to change the conditions (i.e. reduce grease). As bioaugmentation products are seeded into the environment, they must grow and establish a place in that population. They work with the naturally occurring strains often breaking down large, more complex molecules into smaller units that actually feed many of the native strains. In some applications, initial dosage may be higher to assist in establishing that position in an already established ecosystem.
What is the difference between microbes and enzymes?
Microbes in Novozymes formulations perform their work by producing enzymes. Enzymes are very specific catalysts in biochemical reactions that breakdown organics and grease. Their activity depends on the molecular shape of the enzyme fitting to the shape of the compounds in the reaction. Enzymes don’t reproduce themselves, but rely on microbes which are often called “enzyme factories”. Microbes do more than produce enzymes, they provide an “intelligent, efficient” system whereby they can detect the organics present and (as long as they have the capability) produce specifically those enzymes needed to breakdown the organics present.