Bioremediation in Drinking Water Treatments

Bioremediation in Drinking Water Treatments

When we talk about bioremediation in drinking water treatment, a question often arises: Are bacteria bad for drinking water treatment? In many cases, when we talk about “bacteria”, many people directly associate it with pathogens followed by disease. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Most bacteria are beneficial and only 1% of all bacteria cause disease.

There are bacteria with probiotic activity which, when consumed, provide multiple health benefits, such as those found in the probiotics we give to babies to help them grow their gut microbiota or in yoghurts. These types of bacteria are naturally present in the soil, in water, in our own bodies or in foodstuffs.

What’s more, without the existence of these good bacteria, we would die – we need them!

In fact, humans have around 400 different species of bacteria in the digestive tract that allow us to digest what we eat, help protect against disease and provide essential nutrients. A yoghurt has around 100 million bacteria and numerous properties for our body.

The same applies to the bacteria used in our BIOBOX biological water treatment technologies – they are good, just like those in yoghurt or probiotics.

What is water bioremediation?

Bioremediation is a natural process that uses living organisms (bacteria) to remove specific pollutants from soil, water or air. The bacteria feed on the pollutants, making it a self-sustaining and natural process.

"With our technologies, we reproduce the natural process that bacteria carry out to remove pollutants from water, but on a larger scale. Nature is not capable of absorbing the amount of pollutants that are generated daily by human action"  says Joaquín Murría (Operations Director of BIOBOX).

The concept of bioremediation is widely known and used in wastewater. However, this solution has also proven to be one of the most advanced, selective and cost-effective processes for drinking water treatment.

Main advantages of bioremediation in drinking water treatment

The use of bioremediation as a strategy has many advantages over other separation technologies, such as reverse osmosis or physical-chemical technologies. Moreover, they are economically accessible solutions for all types of companies with much lower operating and investment costs than current solutions offered on the market. The cost per m3 is drastically reduced.

In summary, the main advantages of bioremediation with BIOBOX® technologies over other solutions on the market are:

  • Accessible to all types of companies and populations
  • Lower investment cost
  • Lower cost per m3
  • Reduced carbon footprint (-CO2) as they do not depend on high energy yields.
  • They do not generate pollutant rejections as the bacteria consume the pollutant or transform it into something harmless.
  • Controlled natural process
  • All process guarantees

What types of micro-organisms are used in the biological treatment of polluted water?

In our case, all bacteria integrated in the BIOBOX® technologies we offer are natural and safe according to the regulations. They are harmless to health (Group 1). In addition, we carry out a selection of bacteria to choose the most selective breeding and improve the performance of the technology.

We have been working with it for more than 20 years and are fully familiar with removal rates, washing processes and correct plant dimensioning.

What control measures are available for biological treatment of contaminated water?

For an additional degree of safety, and to eliminate external bacteria that may enter the water matrix to be treated, ultraviolet barriers are incorporated at the inlet and outlet of the reactor. In addition, as in all water treatment plants, the water is chlorinated and a residual amount of chlorine is left so that the water is not contaminated on its way through the pipes to your home.

Of course, tests are carried out to check the condition of the output water after treatment.

"We offer fully automated water treatment plants with sensors that control values such as: pH, conductivity, amount of nitrates / ammonium, flow rate, temperature, chlorine, pressure ... At all times you have total control over the water and the processes carried out to safely remove contaminants". Joaquín Murría Martín, Operations Manager BIOBOX®

Having control of the plant allows dosing according to the specific needs of the bacterial activity and in the optimum quantity. This optimises the process.

Examples of BIOBOX technologies based on bioremediation

We have two proprietary technologies for the biological treatment of drinking water: BIOBOX Nitrate and BIOBOX Ammonium.

The solutions offered are based on the formation of a biofilm with bacteria growing on a Filtralite® filter bed. In other words, these biofilters are filled with an extremely porous expanded clay with an enormous specific surface area, resistance and excellent hydraulic performance, which makes it the optimum filter medium for the biofiltration process.

Furthermore, these technologies have been developed in our own innovation and development centre, tested and validated official certifiers to ensure the quality of the process and the output water. 

There are several places where BIOBOX bioremediation for drinking water has already been tested: Catalonia, Aragon, Madrid, Balearic Islands, Castilla Leon… and more are on the way.