Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



WATER WORLD
Bacteria may supercharge the future of wastewater treatment
by Staff Writers
Madison WI (SPX) Jun 01, 2017


illustration only

Wastewater treatment plants have a PR problem: People don't like to think about what happens to the waste they flush down their toilets. But for many engineers and microbiologists, these plants are a hotbed of scientific advances, prompting their trade organization to propose a name change to "water resource recovery facility."

That's because wastewater from our sinks, toilets, showers and washing machines can be turned into valuable products with the help of scientists and unique bacteria - some of which were discovered only by chance as recently as the 1990s.

These latecomers to the research scene, called anammox bacteria, are the subject of a new study led by Daniel Noguera and Katherine McMahon, professors of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Results of their research were published in the journal Nature Communications.

The bacterium's name reflects its function: It turns ammonium into nitrogen gas under anaerobic (oxygen-free) conditions. Researchers and treatment plant operators alike are excited about these microbes because they have the potential to save a great deal of money.

"Being able to remove ammonium anaerobically is pretty important because about 50 percent of a sewage plant's operating cost is pumping oxygen into the water," Noguera says. "Some of this oxygen is needed to remove ammonium with the conventional method."

But anammox bacteria don't tackle their job in isolation. They are part of a community, complex like the microbiome in our gut that breaks down food and keeps us healthy in many other ways. It's this community that was the subject of the new study.

"We knew very little about the role of the bacteria that coexist in anammox granules," Noguera says. "For the first time, our study identified detailed gene expression levels in these granules. This provides important clues on what the anammox bacteria and their partners might actually be doing, and how they interact."

These partners are called heterotrophs, since they rely on the anammox bacteria - which are primary producers (or autotrophs), like plants capable of photosynthesis - to turn atmospheric carbon dioxide into organic carbon. Among the most intriguing results of the new study are hypotheses for the exchange of biochemical material between these two groups of microbes.

The heterotrophs receive the organic carbon they need to grow from the anammox bacteria in the form of several specific molecules, the researchers discovered in the study. In return, the heterotrophs convert nitrogen into a form that anammox bacteria require for growth.

A conventional wastewater treatment plant converts ammonium, which is toxic to fish, into nitrogen gas and nitrate. Nitrogen gas is released into the atmosphere, while nitrate - an important plant nutrient - stays in the treated water. Regulations on the amount of nitrate that may be released vary by state, but excess nitrate contributes to algal blooms in natural bodies of water, depleting oxygen levels for aquatic organisms.

An additional advantage of anammox bacteria, compared to conventional wastewater treatment, is that they convert a larger amount of ammonium to nitrogen gas.

Treatment plant operators now have to weigh the advantages of these new microbes against their implementation challenges. Anammox bacteria grow very slowly, taking about seven days to double in number. And they require closely monitored oxygen and temperature cycles, increasing operational complexity.

But anammox reactors are not the only option for the treatment plant of the future to extract valuable resources from wastewater. In fact, some plants already produce more energy than they need to operate from the biogas that forms during the breakdown of organic material.

"Ten years from now, the typical treatment plant will probably look pretty different from today," Noguera says. "Recovered resources may not only include clean water and energy, but also a variety of chemicals, such as fertilizers and precursors of plastics and fibers. As part of this evolution, I believe anammox reactors will soon become conventional."

WATER WORLD
China's 'toilet revolution' targets dirty lavatories
Beijing (AFP) May 29, 2017
China is taking care of a pressing need: Authorities have installed or upgraded over 50,000 lavatories in a "national toilet revolution" designed to clean up filthy public restrooms. Relief is coming soon, and by the end of the year China expects to have added or upgraded a total of 71,000 toilets, well exceeding a target initially set in 2015. The plan to fix the country's bad reputatio ... read more

Related Links
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

WATER WORLD
484 civilians killed in US-led fight against IS: Pentagon

Sri Lanka targets unauthorised builders after monsoon deaths

European Reassurance Initiative requests billion-dollar budget increase

Sri Lanka hails record military deployment as toll hits 213

WATER WORLD
High pressure key to lighter, stronger metal alloys, Stanford scientists find

Mitsubishi Electric Completes New Satellite Component Production Facility

Space junk could destroy satellites, hurt economies

BAE Systems, Helios to collaborate on liquid armor

WATER WORLD
Bacteria may supercharge the future of wastewater treatment

Off US coast, Tangier Island disappearing under water

Envoys wade in to help US waters despite Trump climate snub

Fish uses special lips to eat razor-sharp, venomous coral

WATER WORLD
NASA Discovers a New Mode of Ice Loss in Greenland

Arctic peoples' climate pleas fell on deaf ears

Previously, on Arctic warming

New Light on the Future of a Key Antarctic Glacier

WATER WORLD
Myanmar's edible bird nest industry comes home to roost

As temperatures rise, plants take up more carbon

Blockchain seen as tool in food safety

In China, maggots finish plates, and food waste

WATER WORLD
One dead, two missing as Taiwan battles floods

Death by volcano

New Geothermal Project Helps Create Clean Energy Future for Los Angeles

Bangladesh navy rescues cyclone survivors

WATER WORLD
African Union offers full support for UN climate deal

China rejects Uganda ivory trafficking claims against diplomats

One dead after Gambian protesters clash with W. African troops

EU to give 50 million euros for African force in Sahel

WATER WORLD
Tourists risk getting bit when they mistake monkey aggression for affection

Fossil skeleton confirms earliest primates were tree dwellers

Springs were critical water sources for early humans in East Africa, Rutgers study finds

Researchers Identify Conductor of Brain's Neural Orchestra and Begin to Decode the Score




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement