Nitrogen-sources and organic solids in wastewater significantly limit the efficacy of oxidative sanitisers for water treatment

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Copyright: Pointing, Lewis
Wastewater processing conditions in manufacturing environments often involve the three key factors for optimum bacterial growth - water, ideal temperature, and a constant food source. Bacteria are problematic because they can reduce product yield by consuming product and metabolise it into organic acids which lower the process pH, requiring large amounts of chemicals to control. At a casestudy wastewater treatment plant, a site-wide analysis of the impacts of chemical sanitation methods had not been conducted and the efficacy of these chemicals had not been established. To understand the impacts of current sanitation practices, standard microbiological plating techniques combined with HPLC testing to measure lactic acid as a proxy for microbial activity were used. Nitrogensource determination and solids analysis were used extensively to provide a comprehensive picture of the stream properties throughout the plant. I show that current microbial control methods are ineffective for significantly limiting microbial growth in the water treatment plant. The most important factors impacting this are the concentration of nitrogen-sources followed by total organic solids at chemical dosing sites, which react more rapidly with oxidative sanitisers than bacteria do. These findings indicate that chemical sanitisers would be more effective if dosed in locations with minimal concentrations of nitrogen-sources and organic solids. In practice, this is difficult to achieve in an existing plant without significant capital expenditure and so investigation of alternative, nonchemical methods of sanitation in combination with more effective use of chemical methods is recommended.
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