A market leader in biomass engineering has launched a 24-hour biological safeguard system to protect organisations operating treatment plants against discharging illegal levels of ammonia.
North East-based Cleveland Biotech (CB) has seen an increase in enquiries for its Amnite NS5000 product from companies which are obliged to prove to authorities they adhere to legal constraints over their effluent discharge levels.
If a treatment plant fails to meet its ammonia discharge consent the plant operator can be prosecuted by water authorities and the Environment Agency. In order to reduce ammonia in a waste water stream businesses require their plants to perform a biological process called 'nitrification'. This involves the conversion of ammonia into nitrate, which is then easily converted into nitrogen.
Plants can lose their 'nitrification' capabilities and in these instances they must recover it very quickly - the simplest method being to add concentrated ‘nitrifying bacteria’. The difficulty is the bacteria are very sensitive and unstable, and as they have a very short shelf-life, a fresh supply must be maintained and be available at all times – an unpredictable and costly problem.
As a result CB have effectively developed an ‘insurance scheme’ for companies whereby in return for the charge of a quarterly fee, it will guarantee to provide an instant, fresh supply of Amnite NS5000 (nitrosomonas bacteria) at the crucial point of need.
Ben Hoskyns, managing director of CB, believes the increase in demand shows more companies are choosing to be more proactive and environmentally responsive due to the constraints placed upon them by the regulatory bodies. “We have found our product and crucially, the way in which we can deliver it, to be the perfect response to the potential problems ammonia discharge can cause. We recently signed a rolling 12-month contract with an international oil refinery for this service and it continues to create great interest.
“It’s a simple but highly effective way to provide complete protection - other solutions, such as tankering huge quantities of 'sludge' between sites or pouring concrete to increase the capacity of the treatment plant, are very damaging to the environment and also costly to businesses.”
Ammonia levels will increase dramatically if nitrification is lost. The consequences of companies not ensuring they have the correct processes in place can range from fines from the Environment Agency to possible jail sentences for persistent offenders.
Amnite NS5000 is one of the world’s most effective products for boosting the biological removal of ammonia.
CB has found the oil and gas industries are particularly susceptible to this potential problem: “These sectors are particularly interested in our nitrifying bacteria and insurance option as they understand the importance of having fresh bacteria available 24/7,” said Mr Hoskyns.
“However these aren’t the only industries that require this support - any industry or business with a treatment plant that is subject to an ammonia discharge consent may suffer from ‘spikes’ in ammonia or loss of nitrification – including food processing companies. They must have a fool-proof nitrification process or a sound back-up plan.”