Who dares wins

American company Bio-Systems has brought its battle against SAS to the UK. The firm's secret weapon is called B500


Bio-Systems has been producing biological products in the United States for about 20 years, but it is just starting to make an impact in the UK, having recently set up a European base in Carlisle. "Sales have grown fantastically," according to MD Malcolm Peacock. In particular, the company has seen a rise in the use of Bio-Systems B500, a powder product specially formulated to be effective in municipal WwTWs and various
industrial applications.

Plants with excessive sludge yield - more sludge than they require to keep the plant functioning - are said to have surplus-activated sludge (SAS). The SAS is generally anaerobically digested on-site, through the addition of bacteria, and then applied to agricultural land. The process of anaerobic digestion reduces volume, stabilises volatile substances and pasteurises the sludge.

Dramatic consequences
Most water companies are looking for ways of reducing their sludge-handling costs. Obviously, the best way to do this is to reduce the amount of SAS produced in the first place. B500 can have a dramatic effect on the quantity of sludge produced. According to Bio-Systems the product can generate a 20% reduction in dry solids. In high-rate systems with no primary clarifier, the reduction has been as great as 35%.

Bio-Systems B500 contains 14 different strains of bacteria, which have been specially selected for their ability to perform under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions, and to biodegrade organic material comprised of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and select hydrocarbons.

To assure rapid establishment in the biomass, B500 is produced and blended with selected biological nutrients and stimulants. All this is done under ISO 9002-certified quality conditions. Says technical director Francis Saunders, "There are 5B bacteria in each gram of product, 14 strains of bacteria, and it is premixed with a bio-enhancer and micro-nutrients, making it incredibly effective in reducing sludge".

So how does the product work? Well, it contains aerobic and facultative anaerobic micro-organisms, and these establish and maintain a biomass which, by providing greater resistance to the organic inhibitors present in wastewaters, is able to perform more effectively than the naturally occurring biomass.

Bio-Systems B500 ensures that the natural mechanism for the selection of the biomass population is presented with a range of selected micro-organisms. These aerobic and facultative anaerobic bacteria have been taken from their natural environment and then adapted to give optimum performance. In effect, it is giving Mother Nature a helping hand - replacing the missing bacteria that should be there and making sure the contamination in the wastewater does not out-compete them.
The product is non-pathogenic, non-genetically modified, safe to use and easy to handle. "We package it in water-soluble plastic pouches," explains European sales manager Rick Thomas, "so all you have to do is chuck it in."

Fringe benefits
According to Bio-Systems there are some beneficial side-effects as well. Not only is there a marked reduction in the amount of sludge, but there is generally a clear reduction in odours, a reduction in plant maintenance costs, improved effluent and of course a reduction in the costs of tankering away the sludge - no small consideration, given farmers' increasing reluctance to take sludge from WwTWs.

Clearly, the better design and engineering of both municipal and industrial treatment plants will continue to have a great bearing on the quality of the wastewater and the sludge that is produced. However, Bio-Systems believes there is no getting away from the fact that the best way to deal with a biological problem is to treat it biologically.
Bio-augmentation - the addition of biological products - is increasingly likely to play a more and more important part in the treatment of wastewaters.

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