• Biomass to Biogas: Anaerobic Degradation 101

    Apr 19, 2021

    Why Treat Wastewater Anaerobically?

    The U.S. alone produces over 70 million tons of organic waste every year, which—if mismanaged—poses immediate threats to both the environment and public health, for example through water contamination. In addition to the short-term risks, through natural decomposition, organic waste produces large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 86 times more heat in the atmosphere over 20 years than carbon dioxide. By harnessing organic waste to produce biogas, a renewable source of energy, these (and other) major problems are succinctly solved, and it is being done today through none other than anaerobic wastewater treatment. 

    In addition to the aforementioned benefits of general pollution control by organic matter degradation and energy generation by valuable gas production, anaerobic systems are attractive for reasons like:

    • Further conservation of energy, thanks to no aeration requirement
    • Some toxins are only degraded anaerobically
      • PCE (dry cleaning solvent Perchloroethene)
      • Chlorinated PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls, e.g., motor oils)
      • DDT (pesticide)
    • Low excess biomass generation
    • Small volume and footprint
      • Aerobic loading: 0.5 to 3.2g COD/L-d
      • Anaerobic loading: 2.0 to 40g COD/L-d
    • Biomass viability after storage, which is ideal for seasonal processes

    Disadvantages of anaerobic systems are comparatively few and include:

    • Sensitivity of the system and influence of many parameters
    • Need for close monitoring
    • Long start up
    • No ammonia removal

    How Do Anaerobic Systems Work?

    Anaerobic degradation is a biological process that occurs in the absence of oxygen and is divided into 4 steps. Without all 4 steps, biogas production can be significantly impacted. 

    1. Hydrolysis

    Macromolecules (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids) are solubilized by the action of extracellular enzymes excreted by bacteria. Particular compounds are split into monomers or dimers (sugars, fatty acids, amino acids) to be able to be transported within the cellular membranes. The process can, however, be limitative regarding complex wastes with high solids fraction (e.g., cellulose).

    Examples of microorganisms involved in hydrolysis are:

    • Clostridium for cellulose or starch degradation in strict anaerobic systems
    • Bacillus for proteins degradation in facultative anaerobic systems

    2. Acidogenesis

    Once in the cell, the simple molecules resulting from hydrolysis are used as substrates (food) by microorganisms, which produce volatile fatty acids (VFA) and alcohols. Carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas are also produced during this phase.

    Examples of microorganisms active in this process include:

    • Clostridium in strict anaerobic systems
    • Acetobacter or Streptococcus in facultative anaerobic systems

    It is important to note that, in the case of organic overloads, a high growth rate can be responsible for an accumulation of VFA or hydrogen gas, which can inhibit the remaining 2 steps.

    3. Acetogenesis

    In acetogenesis, microorganisms catabolize the VFA and alcohols from acidogenesis into acetate.

    This process occurs only in strict anaerobic systems and requires:

    • Syntrophic acetogens that produce hydrogen (e.g., Homoacetogens)
    • Non-syntrophic acetogens

    4. Methanogenesis

    In the final stage of anaerobic degradation, bacteria use the acetate created during acetogenesis, hydrogen gas, and carbon dioxide to produce methane, otherwise known as biogas.

    Like acetogenesis, methanogenesis only occurs in strict anaerobic environments, and involved microorganisms include:

    • Acetoclastic methanogens (e.g., Archaea), which can produce methane from many substrates having a methyl group
    • Hydrogenotrophic methanogens, which can produce methane from hydrogen and carbon dioxide

    This stage is considered the most limitative regarding the dissolved compounds, and growth is favored by the presence of acetate. Further, some non-methane-producing bacteria can outcompete the methanogens and inhibit their growth, particularly in instances where wastewater has high sulfur content or high proteins/nitrates content, as seen often in food production and rendering plants.

    Anaerobic degradation scheme (click to enlarge)

    Where Does Anaerobic Degradation Take Place?

    Anaerobic degradation can be achieved in many types of bioreactors, with varying organic loading ranges:

    • Free culture
      • CSTR (continuous stirred tank reactor): 2–6 kgCOD/
      • Contact reactor: 3–7 kgCOD/
    • Biofilm
      • Fixed bed reactor: 8–20 kgCOD/
      • Fluidized bed reactor: 30–50 kgCOD/
    • Granules
      • UASB (upflow anaerobic sludge blanket): 10–15 kgCOD/
      • EGSB (expanded granular sludge bed): 10–15 kgCOD/
    Fixed Bed Biofilm Bioreactor
    (click to enlarge)
    CSTR Free Culture Bioreactor
    (click to enlarge)
    UASB Granules Bioreactor
    (click to enlarge)

    What Factors Influence Anaerobic Degradation?

    As mentioned above, anaerobic systems are relatively sensitive. Influencing factors include:

    • Temperature: 37° C is optimum for mesophilic; 60° C is optimum for thermophilic
    • pH: 6,7<pH<7,3 is optimum
    • Alkalinity (to buffer the acidification)
    • Nutrients: DCO/N/P = 700/5/1 is optimum
    • Micronutrients (nickel, cobalt, zinc, magnesium, potassium)
    • Inhibitors:
      • VFA will lower the pH (depending on the buffering effect of alkalinity)
      • High ammonia levels increase pH and will inhibit acidogenesis
      • Hydrogen gas will inhibit acetogenesis
      • High total suspended solids (TSS) content will slow down the hydrolysis
      • Grease will also disturb the system

    Most importantly, the anaerobic degradation of organic matter relies on a precise synergy between many microorganisms, and the right populations of bacteria are needed to reach a complete and stable conversion to biogas. For daily maintenance as well as upset recovery in anaerobic systems, new EZ Anaerobic and Biogas contains a unique blend of bacteria, enzymes, and nutrients designed to maximize the efficiency of organics breakdown and methane production. In fact, regular usage can allow for higher organic load tolerance and increased methane yields of 20-50%. To learn more, please click here to view the product page with technical specifications, directions for use, and other resources, or click here to connect with us for ordering information.

    As always, EnviroZyme is here to help with any challenge related to water and environmental technologies. Please call 1-800-232-2847 to speak with one of our bioaugmentation experts today.

  • Causes and Cures for 6 Common Types of Foaming in Water Resource Recovery

    Mar 25, 2021

    In water resource recovery systems, foaming is a pervasive problem that can occur in aeration tanks, secondary clarifiers, and anaerobic digesters. The consequences of foaming range from inconvenient, such as the need for additional housekeeping or dealing with unpleasant odor—to disruptive, like elevated total suspended solids (TSS) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in effluent or decline of solids inventory up to 20%—to downright dangerous, including wind disbursement of pathogens and even fires caused by foam entry into oxygen compressors. Furthermore, these types of operational issues significantly impact costs, making it crucial to prevent or otherwise correct foaming as efficiently as possible.

    Eliminating foam hinges on identifying and rectifying its cause, the potential number of which is vast but considerably circumscribed by foam type. Type of foam can be surmised based on general appearance and confirmed through microscopic observation. Read on to discover the 6 most common types of foaming, as well as solutions to address them.

    1. Start-up foam

    As biological systems adjust to an influent waste stream, a white and puffy foam may briefly form. This is referred to as start-up foam, and though it usually resolves itself within the system’s first few days, the addition of a defoamer can temporarily control excessive amounts and hasten the process. It is important to note that diverse setups can be affected, including those that utilize activated sludge, membrane bioreactors (MBR), and aerated stabilization.

    2. Surfactant foam

    Similar in color and texture to start-up foam, surfactant foam is generally lighter and resembles soap suds. The reason for this is that surfactants (or surface-active agents)—which are present in soap and reduce the surface tension of water to better remove soils—cause this particular type of foam. In municipal and industrial systems, detergents and cleaning products are the predominant contributors. Treatment is also comparable to start-up foam in that application of an anti-foam product is recommended.

    3. Filamentous foam 

    This thick, brown foam is comprised of filamentous bacteria that grow in long thread-like colonies, such as Nocardia or Mycolata and Microthrix parvicella. Crucial to sludge processing, these filaments not only very effectively degrade fat, oil, and grease (FOG) molecules and remove BOD, but they also add stability to flocs by acting as a “sticky backbone,” so they grab more particles and don’t break apart as easily. If, however, filamentous bacteria multiply beyond desirable levels—due to a low food-to-mass ratio, high sludge age, foam trapping, etc.—too many of them link together and form a massive mesh that floats, in part due to their hydrophobic nature and in part due to trapped air bubbles in the mesh structure.

    Rarely, a high dosage of a synthetic defoamer may bring the foam under control, but hydrocarbon-based defoamers should not be applied under any circumstances. In order to restrict further growth of the problematic filamentous strain, a return activated sludge (RAS) line should be chlorinated with a concentration of 3–4 ppm per 1,000 ppm total volatile suspended solids (VSS) as early as possible. The existing foam should be skimmed and hauled off, and it is crucial to entirely prevent removed foam from re-entering the biomass. 

    4. Nutrient deficiency foam

    Gray to tan, thick, and stable, nutrient deficiency foam is sometimes mistaken for filamentous foam or biomass “kill” foam. As the name suggests, this occurs when proper nutrients are not present in sufficient amounts, causing the stressed biomass to overproduce extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), and once the bacteria are encapsulated with heavy EPS, nutrient deficiency foam appears. Elevated EPS can also contribute to other types of foaming on this list.

    It is important to distinguish via microscopic observation and India ink staining between loosely bound (LB) EPS and tightly bound (TB) EPS. LB EPS is most often associated with nutrient deficiency, but could also be due to other stresses, such as low VSS, low TSS, toxins, temperature, etc. TB EPS, however, grow and become populous in the presence of an organic food source, such as sugars, alcohols, and lactic acid. Extremely high doses of defoamers may keep foam caused by TB EPS and LB TBS from worsening, but generally will not decrease it. Nutrient addition is often required for LB TBS, while microorganism addition is required for TB EPS. In either case, wasting should be increased as well to eliminate the encapsulated floc, so new floc can grow to replace it. 

    5. Anaerobic digester foam 

    The hallmark of this foam is not a specific color or texture, but appearance in the anaerobic digester. A consequence of delivering filament- or EPS-laden solids to the digester, this type of foaming can create its own set of problems, like heat restriction, blockage of gas collection, and solids inversion. Eliminating anaerobic digester foam requires treatment upstream, typically in the aeration basins. 

    6. Denitrification foam 

    Unlike the others on this list, brown and clumpy denitrification “foam” is actually nitrogen-gas-infused floc floating to the surface—often in a secondary clarifier—and occurs only in the absence of oxygen. The foam-like substance cannot be corrected with defoamers, but it can be prevented by monitoring oxidation reduction potential (ORP) in the sludge bed with probes. Increased RAS and wasting will help remedy an overly anoxic environment in general, but local anoxic zones should be addressed through ensuring proper aeration and mixing, as well as sludge removal.


    Microscopic observation is the key not only to identifying type and guiding treatment once foaming occurs, but also to its prevention by detecting contributing factors when all still appears normal on the surface. Through our new Microscopic Analysis service, we are helping water resource recovery plants diagnose and rectify foaming issues, as well as address diverse challenges related to water and environmental technologies. To learn more, please click here or call 800-232-2847 for immediate assistance. 

  • What You Don’t Know About BOD and COD May Hurt You

    Feb 26, 2021
    case-study results bar chart

    Since the Clean Water Act and formation of the EPA in the 1970s, water resource recovery entities in the U.S. have been legally required to continually improve the quality of their effluent. Spurred by rising population and production, however, wastewater quantity has actually increased over the same timeframe. The combination of these 2 factors has necessitated more efficient removal of pollutants to produce discharge within environmental regulatory limits, including with regard to BOD and COD.

    Because elevated BOD and COD cause exceedances on the operator’s NPDES permit and can lead to fines and dangerous pollutants entering the water system, it’s more important than ever to fully understand these wastewater quality determinants.

    What exactly are BOD and COD?  

    Both BOD and COD are used to determine the concentration of carbon-based compounds in water.

    BOD, or Biochemical Oxygen Demand, is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed for microorganisms to degrade organic matter under aerobic conditions at a specific temperature over a certain time period. It is based on the idea that microorganisms will continue to consume waste until the food source is exhausted, as long as enough oxygen is available to support the process.

    COD stands for Chemical Oxygen Demand, and it is the amount of oxygen that will be consumed by the chemical break down of both organic and inorganic compounds. As such, COD will always be higher than BOD. Because the test for COD takes only a few hours (as opposed to the test for BOD, which takes 5 days), it can be used as an operational adjustment parameter in close to real time.

    Why are BOD and COD levels important in evaluating water quality? 

    BOD, which is primarily used in the United States, and COD, which is used worldwide, both serve as the main benchmarks of measuring the level of pollution (or waste) in a receiving stream. The measurements of BOD and COD are direct representations of the organic/inorganic fractions present in the inflow, as contributed by contaminants coming from the waste processes upstream.

    • Municipal BOD average loadings are in the 150–300 ppm range.
    • Average municipal COD levels are in the 300–600 ppm range.

    Of course, wastewater generated by commercial, industrial, or institutional facilities often has higher BOD and COD levels compared to domestic wastewater.

    How are BOD and COD eliminated?

    Activated sludge, which comprises the majority of the biomass population in wastewater treatment, is designed to target and break down both BOD and COD.

    • Microorganisms quickly absorb soluble BOD.
    • They create enzymes that break down organic particles outside the cell, creating BOD.
    • Cells absorb the produced BOD and process it into energy and nutrients for growth.
    • Excess BOD is stored if not used immediately, to be processed when food availability is limited.

    The table below lists common BOD and COD removers.

     Bacillus sp.Nitrosomonas sp.
     Pseudomonas sp.Nitrotoga sp.
    Paracoccus sp.Nitrospira sp.
    Nocardia sp.Accumulibacter sp.
    Gordonia sp.Tetrasphaera sp.
    Acinetobacter sp.Nitrobacter sp.
    Thauera sp.Thauera sp.

    What causes a system to lose BOD and COD reduction capabilities and how can they be restored?

    There are 3 main reasons that BOD and COD removal declines:

    • Mechanical issues, such as failure of equipment in the treatment plant, have occurred.
    • Washout was caused by environmental issues, like heavy rains, storms, or extreme low temperatures.
    • Toxic loads in the waste stream destroyed the resident biomass.

    In order to restore BOD and COD reduction capabilities, it is necessary to:

    1. Determine and—to the extent possible—correct the cause of the upset.
    2. Repopulate the biomass with viable microorganisms.

    EnviroZyme has recently added a new robust tool for restoring healthy biomass populations and subsequent BOD and COD reduction across a broad spectrum of municipal and industrial treatment systems: EZ Organics Control. You can learn more about this product, which serves as the backbone of our bioaugmentation product line, by clicking here.

    In 2020 alone, there were over 5,000 cases of organic limit exceedances documented by the EPA’s enforcement and compliance arm. With our new line of water and environmental technologies, EnviroZyme is fully prepared to help even the most challenged water resource recovery entities attain discharge within all environmental regulatory limits.

  • 8 Must-Take Steps to Rectify Elevated Ammonia in Effluent

    Jan 22, 2021

    case-study results bar chart

    Permit effluent limits for ammonia are becoming more stringent, making its removal one of the most important and most difficult processes to maintain in water resource recovery. Completion of the treatment process in many systems requires its removal through nitrification, a sequential, 2-step biological process by which aerobic bacteria oxidize ammonium to nitrate:

    1. Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) oxidize ammonium ions (NH4+) to nitrite (NO2-).
    2. Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) oxidize nitrite to nitrate (NO3-). 

    The full 2-step conversion—important because both ammonia and nitrites are toxic and can cause permit exceedances—is accomplished by maintaining two types of nitrifying bacteria: Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter.

    • Both types of nitrifiers are autotrophs, meaning they build cellular materials using carbon dioxide or carbonate and obtain energy from the chemical conversion of ammonia into nitrite and nitrate.
    • Because they obtain less energy during their metabolic processes compared to more common heterotrophic wastewater bacteria—which require organic carbon for growth—their cellular growth is slower.
    • This is especially true of Nitrosomonas, the bacteria responsible for the conversion of ammonia into nitrite in step 1, which in turn limits the growth of Nitrobacter.

    If a wastewater treatment plant’s ammonia levels are elevated, here are 8 must-take steps to follow to get waste outflow back on track.

    1. Treat with a supplemental nitrifier product to immediately knock down ammonia levels.

      This is typically done with high volumes of product added daily over a week-long period until ammonia levels stay down, while work is done simultaneously to identify and correct the issue that caused the upset in the first place. Though the system’s nitrifier population would eventually recover on its own, it would take weeks or months due to their slow growth, and fines are typically issued each day that permitted ammonia levels are exceeded.

    2. Check dissolved oxygen (DO) levels. 

      Nitrifiers are obligate aerobes, meaning they require free molecular oxygen and are killed off by anaerobic conditions—though an absence of oxygen for less than 4 hours will not adversely affect them. In fact, approximately 4.6 kg of oxygen are required for every kg of ammonium ions oxidized to nitrate (compared with a requirement of just 1 kg of oxygen to oxidize 1 kg of carbonaceous BOD). To ensure effective nitrification, always maintain a DO level equal to or greater than 1.5 mg/L.
      a. Maximum nitrification occurs at a DO level of 3.0 mg/L.
      b. Significant nitrification occurs at a DO level of 2.0 to 2.9 mg/L.
      c. Nitrification ceases at DO levels of less than 0.5 mg/L.  

    3. Verify appropriate lagoon water temperature.

      Nitrification is temperature sensitive, and nitrifiers do not like extreme temperatures, exhibiting poor efficiency below 15°C (59°F) and above 35°C (95°F). The optimum temperature for nitrification is generally considered to be 30°C (86°F).

    4. Test and, if necessary, correct lagoon pH.

      The nitrification process is also sensitive to pH, with acidic conditions being particularly adverse. pH is acceptable for nitrification within a range of 6.5–9, with the best rates occurring above a pH of 7.5 and below a pH of 8.

    5. Ensure adequate alkalinity.

      Nitrification consumes alkalinity, utilizing approximately 7 pounds of alkalinity for 1 pound of ammonia. Nitrification will continue to occur at alkalinity levels below 40 ppm (as CACO3), though the optimum range is below 100 ppm.

    6. Consider lengthening SRTs (sludge retention times).

      Because autotrophs are comparatively slow growing with a low cell yield (each pound of nitrified ammonia yields a mere 0.15 pounds of new cells), sludge age must be kept high enough to maintain their population. Also, BOD must be removed before nitrification, because autotrophs do not compete well against the heterotrophs that remove BOD.

    7. Provide nutrition.

      Phosphorous levels, in particular, tend to become deficient, and a measurable amount should be present for optimum nitrification. Other elements to measure include calcium, iron, magnesium, and molybdenum, as well as copper, nickel, and zinc—the latter 3 of which are needed but toxic at high concentrations.

    8. Check for toxicity or other changes to the incoming waste stream.

      Pollutants—such as metals (mentioned in #7 above), chemicals, FOGs, and many more—or their concentrations in the influent may have changed and be inhibiting nitrification. The incoming ammonia, BOD, or COD loads may have also increased, making it such that the current operating set up can’t handle the new load. Remember, ammonia in wastewater could originate from a variety of sources, including proteins (meat and blood), urea, amino acid products, casein, corrosion inhibitors, process chemicals and raw materials, or cleaning chemicals containing quaternary ammonium compounds.

    When an upset or overload occurs leading to high levels of ammonia in effluent, we recommend our new and robust EZ Nitrification product for use as a supplemental nitrifier. It contains both AOB and NOB organisms that perform a rapid and full 2-step nitrification conversion. It can also be used to initiate or supplement the nitrification process in a non-emergency situation.

    Through our new Microscopic Analysis service, we are also happy to help diagnose and treat issues, including but not limited to those listed above. To get started, please fill out the online form here, or call 800-232-2847 for immediate assistance. For any water and environmental technologies challenge, EnviroZyme is here to help. 



  • Case Study: High Grease Food Processing

    Nov 04, 2020

    case-study results bar chart


    For the period of 1 year, an EnviroZyme® WWT product was applied in a municipality’s activated sludge plant, which was experiencing difficulties settling due to a high level of grease in its 5 MGD influent and resulting filamentous bacteria. In addition, the plant operators were seeking methods to reduce the high costs incurred dealing with their elevated amounts of secondary sludge.

    Both physicochemical analyses and empirical observation demonstrated significant qualitative and quantitative progress throughout the year of treatment.


    Before the case study began:

    • TSS in the effluent was 12–16 ppm.
    • Polymer was regularly added to improve settling.
    • The sludge was filter pressed to produce a dry cake with 15–17% solids content.
    • 1,500 cubic feet of grease had accumulated in the scum pit (photo below), and an additional 35 cubic feet accumulated each week. Disposal required manual removal for transportation to a landfill.

    eliminating grease with envirozyme WWT

    Treatment Plan

    After working with the operators and learning about their system, EnviroZyme WWT products were selected for the trial to meet the objectives of:

    • Creating a healthier biomass.
    • Reducing secondary sludge production.
    • Improving settling.
    • Eliminating grease buildup.

    These biological powders contain a specially formulated range of adapted, high-performing microorganisms and key micronutrients for use in biological wastewater treatment plants treating high grease waste. This potent blend of aerobic and facultative anaerobic microorganisms establishes and maintains a biomass which provides greater resistance to the effects of organic inhibitors present in this type of wastewater.


    A month after adding EnviroZyme products, operators began to notice subtle improvements in floc formation and in the biological community as a whole. The 1,500 cubic feet of grease accumulation was beginning to degrade (photo below), and 2 months later, it was gone.

    after eliminating
            grease using envirozyme WWT

    After the case study’s full 12 months:

    • Secondary sludge production was reduced by 20%.
    • Effluent TSS measured less than 5ppm.
    • 50% less polymer was used.

    case study results summary graph

    The elimination of grease problems was further evidenced by sludge cakes that were 25% drier than those prior, thanks to reduction of filamentous bacteria, which do not dewater well. In addition to the lower hauling cost of drier solids, the plant also began to run better in colder weather.


    Having achieved each of its objectives, this case study on high grease food processing influent has been deemed a success both by operators at the municipality’s activated sludge plant, as well as by EnviroZyme experts.

    Rehabilitation of upset systems requires in-depth understanding of waste plant operation and design, as well as environmental microbiology, and EnviroZyme is here to help. If you are interested in achieving similar results for a wastewater lagoon or holding pond, please contact us by filling out the online form or call 1-800-232-2847 to speak with us today.

  • Case Study: Bioaugmentation of an Agricultural Wastewater Lagoon

    Sep 23, 2020

    physicochemical parameters graph summary


    From October 2019 to January 2020, EnviroZyme® Lagoon Pucks—rapid-dissolve biological solids with concentrated bacterial strains specially selected for treating municipal, industrial, and animal wastewater—were applied to the severely overloaded lagoon of a South American agricultural company with 8,000 dairy cows. Both physicochemical analyses and empirical observation throughout this period demonstrated significant qualitative and quantitative progress, including significant reduction of:

    • Foam
    • Malodors
    • Critical physicochemical metrics

    Empirical Observation

    At the start of the trial, the surface of the lagoon was entirely covered with foam, as shown in the photo on the left below. After just 4 months of treatment, 70% of the water surface was visible with little foam, as shown on the right.

    before treatment - lagoon covered with foamafter treatment - visible water surface litle foam

    Olfactory observation by staff members also indicated a substantial decrease in obnoxious odors in the plant.

    Physicochemical Analyses

    The improvements were, furthermore, notable on a quantitative level. Analyses of important physicochemical parameters—including nitrite, nitrate, ammonia nitrogen, total phosphorus, fecal coliforms, BOD5, and COD—pre- and post-treatment are summarized in the table and corresponding graph below.

    PHYSICOCHEMICAL PARAMETERSAnalysis after 4 months post-treatmentBaseline analysis
    Ammonia nitrogen mg/L337.00606.00
    Nitrate mg/L0.208.00
    Nitrite mg/L0.030.10
    Kjeldahl nitrogen mg/L690.00886.00
    Total nitrogen mg/L690.00893.00
    Dissolved phosphorus mg/L9.0015.00
    Total phosphorus mg/L9.00215.00
    Potassium mg/L1036.00467.00
    Oil and grease mg/L0.002.00
    BOD5 mg/L2752.005195.00
    COD mg/L19303.0018211.00
    TSS mg/L3220.0018650.00
    SVI mg/L2520.0012400.00
    Conductivity uS/cm12300.009944.00


    Physicochemical Analyses graphical summary

    As shown by the data, the lagoon experienced 70–80% reductions in key physicochemical indicators of system health and treatment efficiency.


    After the results were determined, the plant operator deemed the Lagoon Puck trial successful, having achieved each of its primary objectives:

    • Elimination of pivot irrigation system obstruction issues and foam overflow
    • Curtailment of malodors
    • Remediation of previously elevated physicochemical metrics
    • Reduction of inert sludge at the bottom of the lagoon

    Rehabilitation of a severely overloaded system requires in-depth understanding of waste plant operation and design, as well as environmental microbiology, and EnviroZyme is here to help. If you are interested in achieving similar results for a municipal, industrial, or animal wastewater lagoon or holding pond, please contact us by filling out the online form or call 1-800-232-2847 to speak with an EnviroZyme expert today.

  • Why Bacillus Species Are the Future of Odor Control

    Aug 18, 2020

    Grabage pile

    Volatile Fatty Acids

    The decomposition of organic matter—whether plant-based like leaves, fruit, and oil or animal-based like meat, dairy, and excrement—produces volatile fatty acids, or VFA. VFA are essential intermediates that play an important role in biodegradation, particularly in anaerobic environments, and are related to malodors.

    Butyric acid, for example, is a VFA found in rancid butter. The fat molecule composed of butyric acid constitutes 3–4% of butter and, when “tied up” in the fresh product, is completely innocuous. However, once the fats start to break down, butyric acid is released and causes an unpleasant odor that is often compared to the smell of vomit and generally described as rotten. Cellulose Acetate Butyrate—a thermoplastic often used in tool handles, goggles, pens, and more—also emits butyric acid as it breaks down. Other VFA and their associated odors are summarized in the table below.

    Valeric acidMusty socks, vomit
    Isovaleric acidRancid cheese, sweaty socks
    Acetic acidVinegar, sour wine
    Propionic acidSour body odor
    Isobutyric acidRancid butter
    Butyric acidVomit, rancid butter

    Thanks to evolution, humans are expertly equipped to detect and avoid VFA. Conversely, certain strains of bacillus actually break down and digest VFA as food, serving to eliminate odors at their source.


    Exponential Growth and Metabolic Shift

    If multiple forms of nutrients are available to bacilli, they begin by consuming their preferred type. When an abundance of nutrients is available, bacilli enter an exponential phase of growth. In this phase, all the cells divide at a constant rate and continue to grow by geometric progression until they have depleted their entire preferred food source.

    bacilli growth ability chart

    At this point, if another form of nutrient is available, the bacilli undergo a metabolic shift—even producing different enzymes—to allow them to switch to a less preferred food source. While exponential growth is suspended during this time of change, it resumes shortly thereafter, and this cycle repeats until every available nutrient has been consumed.

    This ability of bacilli to adapt to many food sources make them ideal for odor control in diverse markets, as the population will continue to grow, digest, and adapt until all available organic matter, including VFA, have been utilized.


    Real-World Trial

    We put our bacillus-based, ultra-strong Bacteria Concentrate 4,000 B 20X HF product to the ultimate test against slews of odor-causing VFA at a 10-acre dumping site that receives 400 tons per day of garbage in various states of decay.

    Prior to the trial, the incoming garbage was leveled with a bulldozer and an arbitrary odor control product was sprayed manually from a tanker twice per day, once at 2 p.m. and once at 4 p.m. According to the supervisor and operators, for the 1-year period in which they used the non-EnviroZyme product, the odor control was never consistent, and they still suffered from a persistent odor problem.

    Bulldozer leveling new garbage

    Bulldozer leveling new garbage

    During the EnviroZyme experiment, 4 liters of Bacteria Concentrate 4,000 B 20X HF, which includes both a masking agent and an odor neutralizer for immediate odor reduction, were diluted with 2,000 liters of water in the tanker. The prepared solution was allowed to stand for 1–2 hours to enable activation, was constantly aerated by bubbling air via a pump attached to the tanker, and was similarly sprayed daily onto the garbage at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. Odor was monitored 1 hour after each application for the duration of the study.

    The supervisor of the dumping site, who has over 20 years of experience, confirmed substantial odor reduction 1 hour after each application, with a perceptible reduction in just 30 minutes. His co-workers and operators at the site reaffirmed this assertion and, in fact, all highly recommend Bacteria Concentrate 4,000 B 20X HF for improved odor control capability at any garbage dumpsite, thanks to the VFA-depleting power of bacillus.

    Spraying of solution onto garbage

    Spraying of solution onto garbage

    Are you in need of a fast, effective, simple, and economical system that provides odor control consistently over time? Contact us today to identify the bacillus-based EnviroZyme solution that is right for you.

  • Reduce Sludge without Dredging: Lagoon Remediation Program

    Jul 09, 2020

    A village in the middle of Michigan's agricultural heartland contained 3 wastewater lagoons with elevated volumes of sludge on their floors. They entered into a year-long lagoon remediation program with EnviroZyme to reduce the volume of sludge and defer dredging costs in each of the 3 lagoons using WWT 5B Brown.

    Discussions with the lagoons’ governing council established the following historical dimensions for each:

    • Lagoon 1: 6 acres, 2 feet, 9 inches deep
    • Lagoon 2: 6 acres, 3 feet, 3 inches deep
    • Lagoon 3: 11 acres, 4 feet, 9 inches deep

    Measuring sludge depth in a lagoon


    On-Site Surveys

    In the first on-site survey in late April, before treatment had begun, a small boat and a “sludge judge” were used to measure the depth of the sludge in various sections and series of all 3 lagoons. The results were then plotted to show not only how much sludge was present, but also where the buildup was more severe, a process that forms “sludge maps.”

    Based on the depth of sludge in each section and series, we were also able to calculate average sludge depths as follows:

    • Lagoon 1: 2.1 feet
    • Lagoon 2: 1.33 feet
    • Lagoon 3: 1.75 feet

    After the first on-site survey was conducted, WWT 5B Brown was applied according to rates based on the surface area of each lagoon, and initial daily shock doses were followed by regular weekly doses for the period of about 1 year.

    In the second on-site survey, conducted in early May just over a year later, the sludge was measured and mapped once more. The incredible results appear below, with the “before” maps on the left, and the “after” maps on the right. To download a PDF containing all the maps, please click here or click any map below.

    Before Treatment (First On-Site Survey)After Treatment (Second On-Site Survey)

    sludge depth before treatment lagoon1 - 2.1 feet

    Lagoon 1

    sludge depth after treatment lagoon1 - 1.27 feet

    Lagoon 1

    sludge depth before treatment lagoon2 - 1.33 feet

    Lagoon 2

    sludge depth after treatment lagoon2 - 0.52 feet

    Lagoon 2

    sludge depth before treatment lagoon3 - 1.75 feet

    Lagoon 3

    sludge depth after treatment lagoon3 - 0.16 feet

    Lagoon 3

    Comparison between the maps from each on-site survey suggest that Lagoon 1’s sludge was reduced by a bit less than half, Lagoon 2’s by a bit more than half, and Lagoon 3’s almost entirely eliminated.

    Again, average sludge depths were calculated, which enabled us to assign concrete sludge reduction percentages for each lagoon:

    • Lagoon 1: 1.27 feet, a 40% reduction
    • Lagoon 2: 0.52 feet, a 61% reduction
    • Lagoon 3: 0.16 feet, a 91% reduction

    The overall appearance of the lagoons in the second on-site survey was also excellent and noticeably cleaner. The side slopes of all the lagoons were sandy at the water level with very little sludge accumulation at the sides. To keep the lagoons in the first-class shape that was achieved through treatment with WWT 5B Brown, it was recommended that the municipality continue with maintenance dosing.


    The Power of Treatment with EnviroZyme

    3 important elements power EnviroZyme’s lagoon remediation program’s exception results: bio-stimulants, micronutrients, and concentrated bacterial cultures. This combination stimulates the growth, reproduction, and metabolism of sludge-digesting bacteria—all for a fraction of the cost of dredging.

    Even lagoons without significant sludge buildup can and do benefit from treatment with biological products. Long-term application will help lagoons stay clean, increase bubbles from the bottom sludge, decrease floating scum, and result in visibly cleaner water with slower rates of buildup.

    If you are interested in consulting with an expert to reach your quality improvement or cost savings goals for a lagoon or other body of water, please click here to fill out the online form. To view EnviroZyme’s waste treatment products, please click here, or click here to view pond and lagoon treatment products. 

  • Dissolution Rates: Why Not All Solids Are Created Equal

    Jun 15, 2020


    How Do Solid Delivery Systems Work?

    Solids are designed to provide continuous biological treatment by dissolving over a length of time, anywhere from 24 hours up to 90 days. This type of delivery system offers many pros: 

    • Longer service times
    • Delivers chemical without a pump or labor needed
    • Can deliver bacteria in conjunction with other water treatment chemicals
    • In pond and lagoon applications, sinks to bottom to treat sludge in direct proximity  
    • Long shelf life

    Dissolution rates, however, must be consistent in order for a solid product to steadily deliver bacteria and provide maximum effectiveness.


    What Factors Affect Dissolution Rate?


    dissolution rate based raw material weight percent

    Each solid contains bacteria and a wealth of other components. Bacterial strains are selected based on a product’s intended substrate and have nothing to do with dissolution rate.

    Dissolution rate is determined, in part, by the other raw material components, some of which dissolve rapidly, others of which dissolve more slowly. Ratio between these families of compounds is manipulated to achieve different dissolution rates, as shown in the cart on the right.

    By adjusting the chemistry of the block, the dissolution rate can be tuned for 24 hours, up to 90 days. Each specific length of time has value, depending on the application.

    material size aspect ratio chart

    Size and Aspect Ratio

    Extruded solids can take many shapes. The diameter and height of each solid’s shape informs the surface area to volume ratio, which is very important with regard to dissolution rate. As extreme examples, a block of soap shaped like spaghetti or a piece of paper will dissolve more rapidly than one shaped like a baseball.  This concept is quantified by the ratio of surface area to volume.

    different types of solids

    Size is fairly intuitive—a bigger block with identical chemistry and surface area to volume ratio will last longer than a smaller block. Institutional solids range from 16 grams to 16 ounces, and municipal and industrial solids generally come in 2, 5, 10, or 20 pounds.


    cast pour for slid forming

    Many solids are created with a cast pour, while others are extruded (pictured right).

    Because cast pours often lack the pressure necessary to compact the solid block, the density of solids can change from batch to batch. Not only is a solid that is not dense enough lighter in weight, it is also more brittle. When a brittle solid is placed in flowing liquid, there is a greater tendency for pieces to break off and flow out, as well as for the blocks themselves to fall apart, both of which cause the block to dissolve faster.

    The extrusion process, however, ensures solid products are tightly packed in, which makes the block very solid. The dense nature of the product ensures that it dissolves uniformly over time, without breaking into chunks. The length of an extruded solid can also be adjusted to ensure that each block is the desired weight.

    Puck Dissolution Study

    puck dissolution study

    We tested the dissolution of a 5-pound extruded EnviroZyme solid that was designed to last for 30 days in 60° F water, and the results of the study are reflected in the graph above.

    The notable features of the curve include the relatively flat, linear decrease from days 4–39, and the fact that the initial weight gain only lasted for 4 days. Not only did this product dissolve to deliver bacteria at a consistent rate for 30 days, it lasted even for an extra 5 days. 5 billion bacteria per gram and over 11 trillion per 5-pound block over 35 days of consistent dosing delivers an average of over 320 billion bacteria per day.

    ez- solids

    While all EnviroZyme products in any configuration enjoy outstanding reputations based on the premises of first-time quality and on-time delivery, our next-generation extruded solids lead the industry in accurate and consistent dissolution, steady delivery of bacteria, and resultant effectiveness.

    EnviroZyme can help you choose the best solid for your substrate, application, flow rate, temperature, and more. To get started, click here and fill out the online form.
  • EnviroZyme® Eliminates FOG Buildup from Floor in Simple but Powerful Experiment

    May 18, 2020

    With today’s busy environment and long hours, finding the time to properly and thoroughly clean floors is almost impossible for many commercial kitchens, restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores, and food preparation areas across industries. Over time, fat, oil, and grease (FOG) buildup creates deeply packed-in soil, especially with porous tile and in hard-to-reach grout lines, cracks, crevices, and corners. This buildup creates the increased possibility for slip and fall accidents. 

    Using conventional products will spread FOG around, intensifying the slipperiness of floors. 

    EnviroZyme® has provided a turnkey product that continues to work after application to address these problems.

    No-Rinse Floor Cleaner 5X has been uniquely formulated for 2-way cleaning. It provides:

    • Quick initial results by attacking FOG and soils on contact.
    • Subsequent continuous cleaning and deodorizing, as the remaining solution left on the floor breaks down FOG and soils left in the grout.

    What could be simpler than having a floor cleaner work to create a clean and safe environment while employees are not there? To allow our customers to see for themselves, we set up and documented the results of an experiment, which can be easily replicated as follows:

    1. Soak sponge with No-Rinse Floor Cleaner 5X.
    2. Place wet sponge on floor.
    3. Cover the tile with plastic wrap and tape (be sure the tape is secure).
    4. Put a bucket on top of the area to increase effectiveness.
    5. Allow the product time to work.
    6. Remove the bucket and tape.

    This small area represents what will happen to floor tile within the next 24 hours after No-Rinse Floor Cleaner 5X is applied, as enzymes and targeted bacteria remove embedded residual FOG and organics. Here are our results:

    Click to enlarge.

    Look how clean the floor is; the tile is no longer slick, and the grout is bright and clean. Imagine using No-Rinse Floor Cleaner 5X on an entire kitchen floor and easily achieving results like these:

    To learn more, click here.

  • Essential Spring Maintenance for Water Features

    Apr 07, 2020

    Performing regular maintenance of your pond, lagoon, or other body of water prevents future issues and is especially important in the early spring, when water temperatures reach between 40° and 55° F.

    If the water is dark and/or there is a thick layer of sludge at the bottom, you should begin by performing a full cleanout according to these steps:

    1. Drain pond water by placing a pump at its deepest part. If there are fish in your pond, you’ll want to use a portion of this water to fill a holding pool in a shaded area (please note that fish should not be kept in the holding pool for extended periods of time). Fish can be caught more easily as the water level lowers, but of course before the pond drains completely.

    2. Use a hose, pressure washer, or combination of the two to rinse the inside of the pond, taking care not to remove all of the algae, as some is necessary for optimal pond health. Pump out the dirty water as needed and manually remove any debris that does not get pumped out.

    3. Clean any filters according to instructions from the manufacturer, including emptying the skimmer.

    4. Refill your pond with a hose, and if you have fish, detoxify the water with an appropriate product before reintroducing them gradually. This can be accomplished by filling buckets with water from the holding pond, placing a fish inside the bucket, placing the bucket in the pond, and gradually splashing water into the bucket before releasing the fish.

    If your water feature is not dirty enough to necessitate a full cleanout, you’ll still want to remove debris, such as leaves, and some (but not all) algae if growth is excessive. Otherwise, the debris will contribute to elevated nutrients and algae growth as it decays.

    After a full or partial cleaning of the body of water, you will want to clean and ensure functionality of any pumps, as well as check for and fix leaks, as the regular addition of water from a hose will increase the water’s nutrient load, thereby increasing algae.

    Nutrients can also be diverted from algae by adding plants and beneficial bacteria to the water feature. Both plants and bacteria reduce algae through competitive exclusion, and bacteria should be added on a regular schedule throughout the warmer months. EnviroZyme® has several water-clarifying products that contain bacteria specifically selected for this purpose, as well as for reducing sludge, muck, and odors. To view these products—which are easy to use, environmentally safe, and will not harm aquatic or natural life in and around your pond—please click here.

    After performing spring maintenance, water features commonly experience an algae bloom. Allow the body of water time to balance itself as plants and bacteria get established. If the problem does not resolve on its own or worsens, our team of experts will be happy to assist you. Please call customer service at 800-232-2847 or fill out the online form here.

  • EnviroZyme® Provides Controlled Grease Treatment for Traps

    Feb 24, 2020

    Grease Trap JarsTypical Passive Grease TrapClick to enlarge.

    What Are Grease Traps?
    A grease trap is a plumbing device designed to intercept most greases and solids before they enter a wastewater disposal system. The traps reduce the amount of fats, oils, and greases (FOGs) that enter sewers.

    How Do They Work?
    The grease trap tank acts as a reservoir holding the wastewater and food solids that enter the trap. As the wastewater cools, the fat, oil, and grease (FOG) harden and the food solids settle. The FOG, being lighter than water, floats to the top of the grease trap.

    Why Are Grease Traps Needed?
    • Most municipalities require them to limit the amount of greases and solids that are passed through their water treatment facilities.
    • Commercial kitchens that produce fats, oils, and grease have to have them to keep the contaminants out of the sewer system.

    What Are the DOs and DON'Ts for Treatment Options to Improve Grease Trap Operation?
    • Regular service/cleaning intervals are recommended.
    • Use of solvents and/or surfactant-based products are not recommended.

    Grease Trap JarsClick to enlarge.

    Jar #1 contains tap water and corn oil.   An oil soluble dye has been added to the contents. The contents were shaken up and allowed to rest for 24 hours before this picture was taken.
    • The oil separating from the water is a simple demonstration of why grease traps are required in the first place.
    • A grease trap is a wide spot in a drain line, slowing down water and allowing the FOG to separate and float to the top. The water that leaves the trap will contain less oil. The grease removed manually disposed through means other than the collection system.

    Jar #2, a surfactant-based product was added to the same preparation of water, corn oil and blue dye. The jar was shaken and again allowed to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. The surfactant combined with the oil to form an emulsion that allows the corn oil to be uniformly dispersed in the water.
    • Oil emulsified by a surfactant will not separate and float to the top, allowing the oil to leave the grease trap and enter the municipal collection system.

    Jar #3 was prepared by mixing two milliliters of the emulsified corn oil with 500 ml of tap water and allowed to sit for 24 hours. This simulates the dilution of emulsified FOG with water in the municipal collection system. The additional water dilutes the surfactant to the point that it no longer emulsifies the corn oil, the emulsion breaks, and the oil separates from the water. This separation of the oil in the collection system causes all kinds of problems for the municipality, and so treatment of grease traps with surfactants is understandably regulated.

    Envirozyme offers solid, powder and liquid solutions that release billions of beneficial bacteria into the treatment area to digest FOG and maintain clean, free-flowing systems, while also reducing malodors at their source. Each of these products saves money by reducing the frequency of manual clean-outs, preventing blockages, and lowering grease disposal costs. 

    Solids dissolve gradually, allowing for continuous treatment over many weeks.

    Slow Release FOG BlockModerate Release FOG BlockRapid Release FOG BlockGrease Trap and Drain Cleaner
    Slow Release FOG BlockModerate Release FOG BlockRapid Release FOG BlockGrease Trap and Drain Cleaner

    Liquids can be applied manually or using automatic dosing systems.

    Drain & Trap 700Drain & Grease Trap Treatment  

    Powders in water-soluble packets streamline manual dosing.

    FOG Digester 1BFOG Digester 3BFOG Digester 5B 

    EnviroZyme can help you choose the best product for your flow rate, temperature, and FOG concentrations. Contact us today to start effectively controlling grease in any trap.

  • EnviroZyme® Eliminates Foam in Municipal Wastewater Trial

    Jan 14, 2020

    Before and After pics of municipal wastewater treatment plant


    EnviroZyme® partnered with a municipal wastewater treatment plant in New York that receives wastewater with high FOG (fat, oil, and grease) content from a local snack food manufacturer, as well as waste from the nearby city, and had been experiencing issues with severe foaming.

    The proliferation of foam in wastewater treatment plants is subject to a number of factors—including surfactant content, FOG load, sludge age, filamentous bulking, etc. —and often negatively affects settling, the separation and compaction of activated sludge, the sludge volume index (SVI), effluent quality (particularly with regard to TSS), and so on.

    In the case of this particular plant, the foaming issue had progressed to the point that plant operators were forced to use a pool skimmer daily in order to remove it, put it in wheelbarrows, haul it off, and pay for it to be incinerated. Clearly, the foam was a labor- and cost-intensive problem.

    municipal wastewater treatment plant before treatment
    Before treatment

    The Trial

    Over the course of the trial’s 30 days, the plant experienced an average daily flow of 800,000 gallons. Based on this flow rate, half-pound water-soluble pouches containing our WWT 2B Brown municipal and industrial wastewater treatment product were tossed into the aeration tank at a dosage of 5 pounds per day for the first 10 days, and then 1 pound per day for the remaining 20 days.

    WWT 2B Brown’s special blend of microbes, combined with a micronutrient blend selected to ensure maximum biological activity, are a great fit for treating foam by acting on some of the key foam-causing agents. Specifically, they help break down FOG into other smaller molecules, while simultaneously controlling the population of any existing filamentous bacteria through competitive exclusion.  

    After just 2 weeks of treatment, the foam had largely dissipated, and after 3 weeks, it had entirely disappeared.

    wastewater treatment plant after week 2
    After 2 weeks of treatment

    completely clean after week 3
    After 3 weeks of treatment

    In addition to dissipation of the foam itself, BOD and TSS levels dropped in the effluent, despite higher BOD and TSS loads:

     Before Treatment (August)While Treating (September)
    BOD Influent (mg/l)BOD Effluent (mg/l)BOD Influent (mg/l)BOD Effluent (mg/l)
    Week 1158
    Week 226532542
    Week 327333662
    Week 411533042


     Before Treatment (August)While Treating (September)
    TSS Influent (ml/l)TSS Effluent (ml/l)TSS Influent (ml/l)TSS Effluent (ml/l)
    Week 16971013
    Week 26462363
    Week 334071523
    Week 43643023

    As indicated by the data, effluent BOD decreased by 33% even with 28% higher influent BOD waste, and effluent TSS decreased by 50% even with 30% higher influent TSS waste.


    Evidenced by the photographs and BOD and TSS measurements, the use of EnviroZyme’s WWT 2B Brown maintains a better system condition and efficiency. Balance is essential to a healthy activated sludge process, and the delivery of our carefully selected bacteria and micronutrient package restores balance, addressing the root cause of the foam.

    After 4 weeks of treatment
    After 4 weeks of treatment

    Are you interested in achieving similar results for a municipal or industrial collection system, treatment plant, activated sludge system, SBR (Sequencing Batch Reactor), or trickling filter and rotating biological contactors and lagoon system? Contact us by filling out the form here or call 1-800-232-2847 to speak with an EnviroZyme representative today.

  • Combating the Negative Effects of Winter Temperatures on Nitrification

    Dec 03, 2019


    Introduction: The Nitrogen Cycle
    The environment uses many biological reactions to maintain balance in nature. Since nitrogen is a key component of all living matter, it is critical that this element be recycled. This process is represented by the nitrogen cycle.

    (click to enlarge)

    At the top of the nitrogen cycle, you see nitrogen gas or N2.  Our atmosphere is largely nitrogen gas (approximately 80%). As you move counterclockwise, you can see that Nitrogen gas is also “fixed” by numerous bacteria to produce ammonia. Toward the center of the cycle, you also have your decomposers, such as your aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and fungi that also degrade organic matter and contribute ammonia.

    A key detail is that ammonia in water at pH below 9 is in the ionic form. This is the form available to microorganisms. Nitrification is the next step in the cycle and it is crucial to converting ammonia gas to nitrite and then to nitrate, which is the form most readily assimilated by plants. As dead plants decompose, nitrogen is released again as ammonium ions. And finally, nitrate may be converted back to nitrogen gas and discharged back to the atmosphere by a process called denitrification.

    The Nitrification Process
    There are numerous microbes that can accomplish this process but Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter are the major strains known and most all nitrifying microbes require the same conditions.  They are called chemotrophs, a type of autotroph, because they use chemicals as food instead of organics. 

    The first step in nitrification is conversion of ammonia to nitrite. The bacterium Nitrosomonas oxidizes ammonium to nitrite plus hydrogen and water.

        NH4+ + 1.5 O2 --> NO2- + 2H+ + H2O

    The second step is conversion of nitrite to nitrate, which is facilitated by the bacterium Nitrobacter.

        NO2- + 0.5 O2 --> NO3-

    The Nitrobacter reaction generally occurs faster than the Nitrosomonas reaction.  Because of this, you would seldom find high levels of nitrite in wastewater systems. And if conditions are right, the nitrate could then be further broken down by denitrification releasing nitrogen gas. 

    How Temperature Affects the Process
    In ideal conditions, Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas bacteria that are already in wastewater will consume a significant amount of ammonia on their own. These naturally occurring bacteria will slow down in the winter, but the discharge permit limits don’t change during the winter. So, wastewater plant operators facing a 3 ppm discharge limit, for example, will see their levels climb from 1, to 2, to 3, to 10 ppm as the weather cools. When ammonia levels must be decreased quickly, overnight even, a dose of our nitrifier products will help by increasing the number of microbes.

    A fast drop in temperature causes a more severe problem, as the natural population does not have time to adjust, often resulting in higher organics. Nitrifiers are inhibited by organics, whose degradation competes with them for oxygen, providing another factor that slows nitrification. In this instance, carbonaceous degraders, or heterotrophic bacteria that use organic carbon as their food source, are recommended as well to help reduce organics. 

    Plant upsets will tend to have a larger impact on nitrifiers and can take them weeks to recover, unlike carbon bacteria that can recover in days or hours. This slow recovery is due in part to the very slow growth of nitrifiers. In fact, most bacteria can double in as little as 20 minutes, but nitrifiers take 12 to 24 hours to double. Nitrifiers are also more susceptible than other microbes to wash out in a waste treatment system and to toxicity.

    Highly Affected Industries
    Municipalities: Ammonia is produced by the breakdown of organic sources of nitrogen, the fourth most abundant element in living things. High levels of nitrogen are found in organic wastes. Since municipal wastewaters contain large amounts of organic wastes, the wastewater will have a high ammonia concentration. 

    Food and beverage: Foods are also organic in nature, containing large nitrogen concentrations. Residual food components in food processing wastewaters often lead to a requirement to treat residual ammonia.

    Refineries: Refineries are more sophisticated generally using activated sludge treatment systems. These wastewaters have higher concentrations of phenol and other toxics. They represent an opportunity to treat the organics and the nitrification system. Most well-operated refineries use or have used bioaugmentation with nitrifiers. It provides a very important tool for control of their systems.  

    How We Can Help
    Our nitrifier product line is based on Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter strains and can assist with the conversion of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate, so that wastewater treatment plants can effectively manage the nitrogenous compounds, like ammonia, in their effluent.

    In addition to incurring serious penalties if discharged wastewater exceeds limits set forth by NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits, excessive amounts of ammonia also have severely harmful effects on the environment. These include:
    • Toxicity to fish in receiving waters
    • Dissolved oxygen depletion in receiving waters
    • Reduction of chlorine disinfection efficacy
    • Reduction in the suitability of water for reuse

    Learn more about Ammonia Reducer NH3 and Ammonia Reducer NS, or  contact us today to connect with an expert.

  • Restaurant Lift Station Trial Exhibits Successful FOG Reduction with EnviroZyme®

    Oct 21, 2019


    EnviroZyme® conducted a restaurant lift station trial in order to study FOG (fat, oil, and grease) reduction resulting from treatment with bacteria, specifically with our Moderate Release FOG Block product. The lift station in our trial—located outside the busiest restaurant in a tourist town—had been experiencing problems related to FOG loading from the restaurant’s wastes for the better part of the summer.

    Lift stations pump wastewater from a lower point to a higher point when the elevation of a wastewater source is not sufficient for gravity flow, or when the use of gravity flow would be disadvantageous (often due to the high costs associated with excavation). Due to the heavy FOG content of the wastewater from the aforementioned nearby restaurant, this particular lift station held hundreds of pounds of grease. The surface area at the top of the lift station was almost entirely covered with grease balls, and the station had developed a problematic grease “crust.” In fact, the lift station had to be physically scraped out every other month in order to continue operating successfully.

    At the beginning of our 8-week trial, a 5-pound Moderate Release FOG Block was suspended with a rope in the manhole of the lift station. Though the dissolution rate of these solid blocks varies with temperature, flow, and grease content of the environment in which they are placed, this particular product is designed to dissolve gradually over the course of 30 days in average conditions. Halfway through our trial, after the first block had dissolved over a period of 4 weeks, another 5-pound block was suspended in the manhole. In this way, billions of beneficial bacteria were continually and consistently delivered over the trial’s entire 2 months.

    Week 1 of treatment

    Fats, oils, and greases are triglycerides (also known as lipids), so called due to their chemical composition; each FOG molecule is comprised of a glycerol “head” and three fatty acid “tails.” These molecules attach to each other until something disrupts the process. Many common FOG treatments involve raising the temperature to “melt” or using solvents and surfactants to “dissolve” a group of attached triglycerides. Although these treatments are successful in breaking apart the group of molecules, the effects are temporary, because the molecules are free to reattach further downstream once the temperature returns to normal or the chemical wears off.

    The enzyme lipase, on the other hand, breaks apart individual FOG molecules into their composing chemical parts, so that each of the three tails and the head of each molecule are all separated from one another. Once separated, there is no way for glycerol or fatty acids to attach themselves to other grease molecules, and it is in this separated state that the chemical components are digested by the very bacteria that produced the lipase. The specific Bacillus strains contained in all of EnviroZyme’s FOG Blocks (Slow, Moderate, and Rapid Release) are selected for the FOG-attacking enzymes they produce, particularly lipase.

    This is why, after 2 weeks of treatment, when the first biological block had been halfway dissolved, the FOG balls present at the top of the restaurant’s lift station had already been reduced by about 50%, and  there was, furthermore, no additional FOG crusting around the side walls.

    Week 2 of treatment

    At the end of the 8-week trial, despite continued FOG loading from the restaurant’s wastes during the busiest time of the season and without a single pump-out, the results were astounding. The grease balls had decreased substantially in both size and number, so that only about 15% of the surface area was covered. The crusting on the walls, which had been expected to double, did not accumulate further at all.

    Week 8 of treatment

    As evidenced by the photographs, the use of EnviroZyme’s Moderate Release FOG Block resulted in significant reduction in FOG, and the overall quality of the lift station’s condition was much improved, including a lower risk of blockages. Because the individual FOG molecules were broken down and digested by the bacteria, as opposed to temporary disbandment of the larger group of FOG molecules, the lowered risk of blockages extended to the entire wastewater system. The physical labor costs associated with manual cleanouts of the restaurant’s lift station decreased substantially, as did grease disposal costs.

    Are you interested in achieving similar results for a lift station, interceptor, sewer, drain, sump, grease trap, reclamation system, or holding tank? Contact us by filling out the form here or call 1-800-232-2847 to speak with an EnviroZyme representative today.

  • Pond Trial Demonstrates Successful Water Clarification with EnviroZyme®

    Sep 20, 2019

    Water Splash

    EnviroZyme® conducted a summer pond trial in Northern California in order to study organic reduction and water clarification resulting from treatment with bacteria, specifically with our Biological Pond Treatment product. The 75-acre pond—located outside of the river club for community residents—had been experiencing high organic levels that seemed to be increasing each year.

    Before Treatment
    Before treatment

    In addition to the visible algae growth on the surface of the water, the pond used in the trial also had significant sludge beneath the surface. Sludge is an accumulation of organic matter that settles at the bottom of a pond or other body of water. This organic matter can include decaying plant debris, fish waste, and debris from outside washed in by rainwater, but the largest contributor to accelerated accrual of sludge is dead algae. In fact, a different pond in this same community became so overwrought with algae and resultant sludge buildup that it had to be dredged a few years prior to our trial, costing the community around $90,000.

    In our 8-week trial, quarter-pound water-soluble pouches containing spray dried, dormant bacteria were tossed from the bank of the pond into the water. On day 1 of the trial, a 150-pound shock dosage was delivered, followed by a two-week no-dose period. During weeks 4–7, a 100-pound weekly dosage was delivered, and on week 8, a 50-pound dosage. In general, dosage will depend on factors unique to each body of water, including the depth, length, width, and severity of organic levels. EnviroZyme representatives are available for consultation when determining individual dosage rates.

    The water-soluble pouches began to break down and release bacteria in just a matter of seconds, at which time the nutrients in the pond activated the metabolism of the bacteria, causing them to become vegetative. Contrary to its connotation in the medical field, a “vegetative” state in biology is an active state in which the bacteria are producing enzymes, consuming organic material, and reproducing.

    Before Treatment Before treatment
    After 4 weeks of treatment

    The bacteria contained in the pouches and their offspring secreted targeted enzymes to break down the types of organic matter contained in the sludge in the lower layer into a digestible state, before proceeding to ingest and digest it. The specific strains of bacteria contained in the Biological Pond Treatment, as well as the specific strains in all of EnviroZyme’s products, are selected deliberately with consideration to the specific enzymes they produce and the intended application. This process of utilizing bacteria to remove compounds—including plant-based cellulose—that become detrimental when allowed to accumulate is otherwise known as biological remediation.

    After 8 Weeks
    After 8 weeks of treatment

    As the bacteria consumed the organic matter contained in the excess sludge, that layer was gradually reduced to acceptable and expected levels, leading to a reduction of the unpleasant odors associated with decaying organic material, too. As the bacteria consumed the organic nutrients that also fed the algae, the algae were starved through competitive exclusion.

    As one can see based on the photos above, after just 8 weeks of treatment, surface algae had almost completely disappeared and the overall water clarity was much improved. Overall organic levels of the pond, including sludge, had been dramatically reduced. Residents commented that the water quality is the best they could remember seeing in many years, and they were very enthusiastic to treat the remaining ponds around their river club.

    Are you interested in achieving similar results for your pond or other body of water? Contact us today by filling out the form here or call 1-800-232-2847 to speak with a representative.

  • Wastewater and the Septic System

    Aug 20, 2019


    What is a septic tank?
    For the 20% of American households and institutions that are not hooked up to a sewer system, everything that goes down any of the drains (toilets, showers, sinks, laundry machines) travels first to the septic tank. The septic tank is a large-volume, watertight tank that provides initial treatment of wastewater by intercepting solids and settleable organic matter before disposal of the wastewater (effluent) to the drainfield.

    While relatively simple in construction and operation, the septic tank provides a number of important functions through a complex interaction of physical and biological processes.
    septic tank

    What does a septic tank do?
    The essential functions of the septic tank are to:
    • Receive all wastewater from the house or institution
    • Separate solids from the wastewater flow
    • Cause reduction and decomposition of accumulated solids
    • Provide storage for the separated solids (sludge and scum)
    • Pass the clarified wastewater (effluent) out to the drainfield for final treatment and disposal

    The septic tank provides a relatively quiescent body of water where the wastewater is retained long enough to let the solids separate by both settling and flotation. This process is often called primary treatment and results in three products: scum, sludge, and effluent.

    Scum: Substances lighter than water (oil, grease, fats) float to the top, where they form a scum layer. This scum layer floats on top of the water surface in the tank. Aerobic bacteria work at digesting floating solids.

    Sludge: The "sinkable" solids (soil, grit, bones, unconsumed food particles) settle to the bottom of the tank and form a sludge layer. The sludge is denser than water and fluid in nature, so it forms a flat layer along the tank bottom. Underwater anaerobic bacteria consume organic materials in the sludge, giving off gases in the process and then, as they die off, become part of the sludge.

    Effluent: Effluent is the clarified wastewater left over after the scum has floated to the top and the sludge has settled to the bottom. It is the clarified liquid between scum and sludge. It flows through the septic tank outlet into the drainfield.

    The floating scum layer on top and the sludge layer on the bottom take up a certain amount of the total volume in the tank.  The effective volume is the liquid volume in the clear space between the scum and sludge layers. This is where the active solids separation occurs as the wastewater sits in the tank.

    How long must liquids remain in the septic tank?
    In order for adequate separation of solids to occur, the wastewater needs to sit long enough in the quiescent conditions of the tank. The time the water spends in the tank, on its way from inlet to outlet, is known as the retention time. The retention time is a function of the effective volume and the daily wastewater flow rate:
    Retention Time (days) = Effective Volume (gallons)/Flow Rate (gallons per day)

    A common design rule is for a tank to provide a minimum retention time of at least 24 hours, during which one-half to two-thirds of the tank volume is taken up by sludge and scum storage. Note that this is a minimum retention time, under conditions with a lot of accumulated solids in the tank. Under ordinary conditions (i.e., with routine maintenance pumping), a tank should be able to provide two to three days of retention time.  As sludge and scum accumulate and take up more volume in the tank, the effective volume is gradually reduced, which results in a reduced retention time. If this process continues unchecked—if the accumulated solids are not cleaned out (pumped) often enough—wastewater will not spend enough time in the tank for adequate separation of solids, and solids may flow out of the tank with the effluent into the drainfield.  This can result in clogged pipes and gravel in the drainfield, one of the most common causes of septic system failure, and also in pathogenic bacteria and dissolved organic pollution.

    In order to avoid frequent removal of accumulated solids, the septic tank is (hopefully) designed with ample volume so that sludge and scum can be stored in the tank for an extended period of time.  A general design rule is that one-half to two-thirds of the tank volume is reserved for sludge and scum accumulation. A properly designed and used septic system should have the capacity to store solids for about five years or more. However, the rate of solids accumulation varies greatly from one case to another, and actual storage time can only be determined by routine septic tank inspections.

    How do bacteria fit in?
    While fresh solids are continually added to the scum and sludge layers, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that live without oxygen) consume the organic material in the solids. The by-products of this decomposition are soluble compounds, which are carried away in the liquid effluent, and various gases, which are vented out of the tank via the inlet pipe that ties into the building plumbing air vent system.  Anaerobic decomposition results in a slow reduction of the volume of accumulated solids in the septic tank. This occurs primarily in the sludge layer but also, to a lesser degree, in the scum layer. The volume of the sludge layer is also reduced by compaction of the older, underlying sludge.  While a certain amount of volume reduction occurs over time, sludge and scum layers gradually build up in the tank and eventually must be pumped out.

    EnviroZyme’s Concentrated Grease Control 10X and Septic Treatment products can be used if the effective volume and/or retention time of a septic tank is not great enough to prevent non-clarified wastewater from flowing through the outlet. The bacteria in these products will raise the total plate count, and consumption of the organic compounds in the sludge and scum layers will accelerate as a result. This effectively reduces those layers and the frequency with which a septic tank needs to be pumped out.


    In an experiment, we set up two aquariums with fresh food that approximated the sugar/starch/protein/oil ratios found in the US diet and treated one but not the other with Septic Treatment. As expected, we documented a higher total plate count in the treated tank, noting that after about 45 days, the total plate counts in both sides returned to the same level.  This was because natural wastewater has bacteria in it already, and they eventually resumed dominance in the biomass. This time line indicates a monthly treatment program for best results.

    septic care performance 1
    (click to enlarge)

    We also measured the carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (cBOD) in the clear liquid portion of each tank, about 10 inches below the surface.  Both tanks showed a decrease over time because we were not adding ‘new’ food after the initial charge, but the treated tank showed a 36% reduction in cBOD compared to the control. This means that, once treated, a septic tank’s effluent will also reduce the amount of dissolved organic pollution entering the environment.

    septic care performance
    (click to enlarge)

    Interested in finding out more about how our bacteria can help? Contact customer service by filling out the form here or call 1-800-232-2847.

  • Water Pollution, Part 3: Agricultural Runoff

    Jul 26, 2019


    Agriculture and Fertilizers
    Agriculture helped give rise to civilization itself and for 2,000 years, the cultivation of crops has kept humankind alive and nourished. Improvements in technology and techniques have greatly increased crop yields, including the use of fertilizers. The widespread use of manufactured fertilizers in more recent history, however, has disturbed the environment, and the contamination of water supplies by these chemicals looms large as a direct threat to us and to other species.

    According to the United States EPA, agriculture is the nation’s leading cause of impaired water quality. While industrial and municipal wastewater management is highly regulated and generally very effective at removing nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous from water leaving food factories, our homes, etc., farm runoff is not regulated at present and is the largest source of nutrient loading in our waterways.

    The Consequences of Nutrient Loading
    Nitrogen serves as food and is considered the most important nutrient for plants; phosphorous is required for normal development and the use and storage of energy; potassium protects the plant from disease and adverse conditions. All three are essential for life and are absorbed by plants (via their roots) from the soil. As the 3 most essential nutrients to plants, they are of course the 3 main nutrients in fertilizer—often referred to as NPK—used when the soil is deficient. When fertilizing compounds are applied too heavily for fields to absorb them, they will run off and end up in our lakes, streams, and rivers. 


    Dead Fish

    In much the same way that it fertilizes land plants, if allowed to enter our water system, NPK fertilizes aquatic plants (like duckweed) and algae, often resulting in the proliferation of problematic amounts. For algae, this is commonly referred to as an algal bloom. When the plants that constitute these overgrowths die and decay, they are biodegraded by bacteria, which depletes oxygen in the water. As a result of reduced oxygen levels, marine life dies and the door is opened to new species invasion, both of which decrease biodiversity and cause significant harm. If, in an algal bloom, the strains produce toxins, the problem is further reaching, and toxicity can climb its way up the food chain. For humans, the water becomes non-potable and may become unfit even for recreation.

    Forging Solutions and How We Fit in
    Biotechnology in agriculture is an exciting application, one that is attracting investment by industrial and academic research centers to ensure clean and safe water. EnviroZyme® currently has customers that are utilizing our microorganisms in agriculture to displace or reduce the need for traditional fertilizers and pesticides. Bacteria can also be used to convert the nitrogen in the air into a nutrient source for row crops, decreasing the nutrient loads in the fields and reducing runoff.


    Possible applications include treating contaminated waterways in the same manner that decorative ponds, storm water systems, and municipal lagoons are treated today. With competitive exclusion, beneficial bacteria consume excess nutrients, so they cannot be consumed by harmful plants and algae, effectively “starving” them. Another possibility is the use of one or more bacterial strains to inhibit the formation of toxic strains, or to consume or metabolically modify the toxins they produce.

    Kids Drinking

    The entire EnviroZyme team places the utmost value and focus on developing solutions to meet the needs of a growing population while protecting our environment for future generations, and we are proud to serve the agricultural industry in service of this goal.

    Interested in finding out more about how our bacteria can help? Contact customer service by filling out the form here or call 1-800-232-2847.

  • Water Pollution, Part 2: Household Wastewater Treatment

    May 10, 2019

    Wastewater Treatment plant

    The Water Used in Our Homes

    Our last blog post examined water pollution as a result of specialization in industry, specifically in the food industry. For many of the same reasons that food production is concentrated into large, specialized factories, people tend to congregate in large cities. When people live closely together, they enjoy benefits such as near proximity to jobs, food, healthcare, and entertainment.

    Unfortunately, high population density areas are accompanied by high concentrations of water contaminants. Beyond elevated levels of industry in high population density areas, one very significant source of water pollution in urban—and to a somewhat lesser degree suburban—areas is our homes.

    From kitchens to bathrooms to laundry rooms, we use water for many things in our homes. In almost all cases, we add suspended or dissolved solids to the water before sending it to the drain. Examples include soap and soils from our laundry washing machines, shampoo and soils from our shower, and soap and food from dishwashers. As can be seen from this water use pie chart, about 80% of the water we purchase is loaded to some degree with solids while we use it, and then it is sent down the drain. Because these solids can harm plants and animals, and because they eventually end up in our drinking water, they must be removed by wastewater treatment plants.

    water wastage in homes graphical summary
    Graphic courtesy of

    The Water Leaving Our Homes

    For approximately 80% of Americans, wastewater is flushed through your home’s pipes until it reaches a local sewer main. Through a combination of gravity and the use of grinder-pumps and/or lift stations, wastewater flows into progressively larger pipes until it reaches a treatment plant.

    Grinder-pumps or lift stations may be used when gravity will not suffice to move wastewater.

    Both treatment plants and sewer systems themselves are owned and operated by city and town sewer departments.

    At the Wastewater Treatment Plant

    Once at the wastewater treatment plant, wastewater goes through one or more stages of treatment, depending on the particular plant. At the beginning of the process, during pretreatment, large objects and sometimes grit are removed from the wastewater before it proceeds.

    Screens help remove large objects during pretreatment.

    Primary Treatment

    The first stage, primary treatment, consists of water sitting in tanks, also known as clarifiers, until solids settle out as sludge and sink to the bottom, and grease and oils rise to the top. Both the sludge and the grease and oils are collected and disposed of. Primary treatment removes up to 60% of solids but very few toxic chemicals.

    Water sits in tanks, or clarifiers, during primary treatment.

    Secondary Treatment

    At most facilities in the U.S., wastewater will go on to secondary treatment. During secondary treatment, bacteria consume the remaining, smaller organic materials in aerated tanks. The secondary treatment system is also known as the activated sludge system, aeration basin, or oxidation ditch.

    Aeration in tanks assists bacteria with digestion of organic materials.

    Federal regulations require removal of 85% or more of the suspended solids and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) during secondary treatment. A significant proportion of toxic chemicals are also removed during this process. After secondary treatment, the water often (but not always) flows to clarifiers to sit again, but this time until the bacteria settle out.

    Bacteria often settle out in a secondary clarifier.

    The beauty of microbiological treatment is that the bacteria, once they eat the organic matter, internalize the dissolved solids and are big enough to coagulate and flocculate in the clarifier. Otherwise, dissolved solids would remain in wastewater indefinitely, as it is not possible for them to settle out independently.

    Tertiary Treatment

    At more sophisticated treatment plants, wastewater will go on to tertiary treatment, which removes nitrogen, phosphorous, and/or other residual matter to further improve the effluent quality. The methods employed in tertiary treatment vary widely and can include the use of chemicals, synthetic membranes, filter beds, etc.

    Tertiary treatment in Libertyville, IL.


    If wastewater is chlorinated or otherwise disinfected before discharge, that always occurs last, regardless of which stage treatment ends with. Not all wastewater is disinfected, and not all wastewater is treated beyond the first stage.

    Chlorination in a tank is always the last step before discharge.

    How We Fit in

    EnviroZyme is proud to offer solutions in the form of various microbial products and technical support to help city and town wastewater treatment plants facilitate more effective and efficient secondary and tertiary treatment.

    During secondary treatment, adding more bacteria that are specifically selected for their ability to consume fats, oil, grease, protein, sugar, carbohydrates, and cellulose helps the wastewater treatment plant operator meet their pollution reduction objectives. By increasing the number of bacteria through the addition of products like WWT 5B Brown, WWT 2B Blue, WWT 2B Brown, and WWT 5B Blue, we alter the food-to-mass ratio in a way that more food is consumed.

    Our nitrifier product line, based on Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter strains, can assist with the conversion of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate. This conversion is a necessary precursor for the conversion of dissolved nitrogen solids over to nitrogen gas, which evaporates. The conversion of dissolved nitrogen solids (e.g. nitrite and nitrate) to nitrogen gas (N2) is called denitrification and occurs in tertiary treatment. We can assist our customers with their management of dissolved nitrogen pollutants with products such as Ammonia Reducer NH3 and Ammonia Reducer NS.

    Photographs courtesy of

  • Water Pollution, Part 1: Specialization in the Food Industry

    Apr 04, 2019

    Food Factory

    In modern food factories, foodstuffs are processed at staggering paces: 120 birds per minute at Tyson, 500,000 pizzas per day at Tombstone, 90,000 hogs per week at Smithfield.  

    The undeniable efficiency of these companies and countless others is a direct result of specialization within the food industry; indeed, production processes have been increasingly concentrated into relatively small locations since the invention of canning and the subsequent proliferation of large-scale food production during the 19th century. By utilizing the same or similar raw materials to make large quantities of a single finished product, producers realize lower production costs per unit, and the consumer enjoys lower prices.

    For all the economic benefits, however, the concentration of production processes inherently leads to concentration of the by-products of food processing, which are released from food factories into the environment through various pathways. Because these releases can contain components that are detrimental to the health of factories’ immediate surroundings and the health of the globe as a whole, they are generally regarded as pollutants and are subject to regulations administered by the EPA and other more localized agencies.

    One such pathway for the release of detrimental by-products is wastewater, of which enormous amounts are generated through food processing in particular. Two regulated and commonly elevated metrics of wastewater discharged from food factories are biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS). BOD refers to the amount of dissolved oxygen that must be present for microorganisms to decompose organic matter in the water, while TSS refers to the weight of solids in water that could be captured by filtering. If left untreated, wastewater with high levels of BOD and TSS will wreak havoc on the environment by lowering oxygen levels to the point of eutrophication, for example, which can kill aquatic life including fish, amphibians, and plants.

    To avoid the negative environmental outcomes associated with BOD, TSS, and other elements of wastewater that are compounded by industrial specialization, the EPA requires municipalities and industrial sites to treat their wastewater prior to discharge into a receiving stream. BOD and TSS from food factories, in particular, are best treated with the introduction of targeted microorganisms. EnviroZyme is proud to serve this industry by providing high-quality microbial products and application expertise, helping meet or exceed standards set forth by water authorities and furthering progress toward the national goal established by the Clean Water Act of “eliminating the discharge of all pollutants.”