Essential Trace Elements in Anaerobic Wastewater Treatment

by Hydro Solutions | August 26, 2016 4:23 pm

Problem: Low rate anaerobic lagoons in the meat processing industry can have compromised performance issues due to an inadequate supply of essential trace metals. The essential anaerobic trace metals nickel, cobalt, molybdenum, manganese, copper, zinc, aluminum, and boron (to a lesser extent – selenium, vanadium, and tin) are essential in the growth and metabolism of anaerobic bacteria and archaea. The outer orbits of these trace metals are used by bacteria and archaea to enhance their metabolic activity and to be utilized as enzyme activators. Anaerobic bacteria are organized into trophic levels where the metabolic by-product of one trophic level is utilized in turn by another trophic level of bacteria and archaea. The buildup of excess hydrogen, volatile acids, or volatile fatty acids can disrupt the metabolic and anabolic activities of the bacteria and archaea of the trophic level above or below the disrupted trophic level bringing about poor anaerobic bacteria and archaea performance. The break-through of incomplete anaerobic degradation products could lead to high concentrations of volatile fatty acids (which are inhibitory to nitrifying bacteria) , volatile acids, fats, oils & greases, the incomplete conversion of TKN, increased levels of reduced sulphur compounds (which are inhibitory to nitrifying bacteria), and increased BOD loading to the aerobic wastewater treatment system.
In the cold weather late Fall, Winter and early Spring months, the cooler wastewater temperature (below 88°F) leads to the slow-down of anaerobic activity bringing about increased amounts of biological solids and organic materials building up on the bottom of the lagoon and increasing the size of the anaerobic grease cap to a size that is untenable. The following late Spring or Summer these materials are then broken down leading to the excess production of gas bringing about the “benthic burp” of solids, the release of reduced Sulphur compounds and incompletely degraded proteins that flow out of the anaerobic lagoon into the aerobic process bringing about the potential loss of aerobic basin dissolved oxygen, nitrification, and final clarifier performance. In addition, if quaternary ammonium compounds are used in the processing plant, they tend to build up on the anaerobic solids and when the “benthic burp” phenomena takes place there is a rapid increase in quaternary ammonium compounds in the aerobic treatment system bringing about the potential loss of nitrification or whole effluent toxicity.
Solution: The utilization of Essential Micros 1 to correct essential trace element deficiencies or imbalances. Essential Micros 1 is a trace element formulation containing from 6-10 of the essential anaerobic trace elements in a formulation that contains specific sequestering agents for each of the trace metals utilized to ensure their bioavailability to the anaerobic bacteria and archaea and to protect the trace elements from waste stream sulfides, hydroxides, phosphates, phosphonates, soluble microbial products and chelants. Essential Micros 1 is formulated after the specific waste stream testing of the indigenous trace metals by EPA Method 770 R4.4 with an inter-coupled plasma (ICP).
Essential trace elements are an excellent tool to boost the performance of anaerobic covered lagoons. Anaerobic bacteria (and Achaea) are at the low end of the “energy spectrum”, and their metabolic rate and anabolic process’ are absolutely tied to a group of essential trace metals that act as “enzyme activators” and allow for the narrow energy bridge in which anaerobic bacteria utilize hydrogen, iron, sulfate, CO2, and other sources to drive their metabolic/anabolic process’. Cobalt, nickel, molybdenum, manganese, copper, zinc, and boron (and to a lesser extent selenium, tin, and vanadium) are absolutely essential to “cycle up” the limited energy input of the terminal electron acceptors/donors and catalyze the anaerobic enzymes, and thus make possible the utilization of anaerobic environments in industrial wastewater treatment (and throughout “nature”).
Essential Micros 1 utilizes essential trace elements sequestered by the appropriate chelating agent to provide protection from anaerobic waste stream sulfides, phosphates, carbonates, hydroxides, chelants, soluble microbial products, etc., to deliver the trace element in a bioavailable form to the targeted anaerobic bacteria and to assist in not creating a situation where gross levels of metals break through and interfere with down-stream aerobic wastewater treatment or sludge application/disposal venues. Essential Micros 1 will assist the indigenous anaerobic bacteria and archaea in their anabolic growth and complete metabolic breakdown of meat processing waste stream components thus optimizing anaerobic methane gas production, the reduction of accumulated solids on the bottom of anaerobic lagoons, reduce the throughput of volatile fatty acids, and improve the aerobic treatability of the anaerobic waste stream in Winter and Summer operating seasons.
For more information on Essential Micro 1 visit our website at or contact Randy Drake at 502-899-7107.

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