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  • Air Quality & Emissions Show (AQE) Air Quality
    Air Quality & Emissions Show (AQE)

    View live vehicle emissions data at AQE 2018

    Visitors to next week's Air Quality & Emissions Show (AQE 2018) in Telford will be able to view live emissions data from vehicles travelling on a road close to the Telford International Centre, where the event will take place (21-22nd Nov.) Ricardo plc, a global strategic engineering and environmental consultancy, will operate the monitoring equipment, providing a live feed into their AQE exhibition stand number No. 74.

  • ABB Laboratory, Monitoring, Process & Analytical
    ABB

    ABB to exhibit latest technologies for water and air monitoring at WWEM & AQE 2018 shows

    ABB's new AquaMaster flowmeter and Dynamic QR code remote assistance tool for air quality systems to feature at WWEM & AQE 2018 shows

  • Jacopa Water
    Jacopa

    Jacopa Strengthens Stormwater Solutions

    Wastewater solutions specialist Jacopa has reached a landmark agreement with German water technology systems expert Steinhardt GmbH as the sole agent for its wide range of flood and process protection products in the UK and Ireland.

  • EMEX 2018 Trade Shows & Conferences
    EMEX 2018

    EMEX, the Energy Management Exhibition, taking place on the 21st and 22nd of November at ExCeL London will have a stellar line-up of speakers and exhibitors.

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Thursday, 23 March 2017 11:35

Chance discovery of bacteria could shake up energy use of wastewater treatment

A chance find of a type of bacteria accidentally discovered during research could have big implications for water treatment's costs and carbon footprint, and could fundamentally re-shape efforts to cut the huge amount of electricity consumed during the wastewater clean-up of nitrogen.

The discovery, made during research supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has upended a century of conventional thinking. The microorganisms –'comammox' (complete ammonia oxidising) bacteria – can completely turn ammonia into nitrates. Traditionally, this vital step in removing nitrogen from wastewater has involved using two different microorganisms in a two-step approach: ammonia is oxidised into nitrites that are then oxidised into nitrates, which are turned into nitrogen gas and flared off harmlessly.

bacteria water treatmentThe outcome could be a big rethink regarding the energy-saving innovations developed over the last two to three decades in the field of nitrogen removal. Wastewater treatment is a huge consumer of electricity, accounting for 2-3 per cent of all power usage in western countries, and no less than 30 per cent of its energy bill results from the need to remove nitrogen. Most of the sector's efforts to reduce its energy use have focused on the two-microorganism approach.

The discovery was made by scientists working on the EPSRC-funded Healthy Drinking Water project, which is being led by the University of Glasgow and is due to publish its core findings later this year.

Dr Ameet Pinto has led the team, which has worked in collaboration with the University of Michigan in the US. He says: "This discovery took us completely by surprise. It's a superb example of how EPSRC support provides a secure platform for a can-do environment enabling researchers to achieve important spin-off breakthroughs in addition to the primary goals of their research."

Comammox was found in a drinking water system in the US. Other research groups have also detected it in wastewater treatment plants, in groundwater and even in aquaculture systems.

Dr Pinto says: "The discovery of a single microorganism capable of full nitrification will have a significant impact on our understanding of the nitrogen cycle and on efforts to manage nitrogen pollution. The potential is there for the wastewater treatment sector to exploit this breakthrough, which other teams in Europe have made in parallel with us.

"That would be an important step towards informing the development of robust approaches in terms of cutting costs and reducing carbon emissions associated with generating the huge amounts of electricity that the sector uses."

LINKS
EPSRC-funded Healthy Drinking Water project

Comammox Nitrospira-Like Bacteria in a Drinking Water System