The inaugural Microbiome Summit took place recently at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The goal of the summit was to promote the use of DNA analysis of the biology/biomass/ecology at work in a wastewater plant. This will be another tool that operators can use to help optimize their facilities to have the right mix of biomass to better accomplish the task at hand – whether it is biological nutrient removal or anaerobic digestion. Facility managers can also use this tool to help save money because if the right biology is present in an activated sludge system, then biological nutrient removal can be done to save chemical costs and energy costs. Subsequently, having the right biology in the anaerobic digestion system enables production of healthy amounts of biogas and hopefully limits upsets and downtime.
The summit was broken into the following topics:
- Invisible Influence: The Microbiome in Health
- Problems and Opportunities Worth Solving
- Microbiological Monitoring in Water: Past, Present & Future
- Metagenomics Applications in Wastewater
- Biogas Study: Summary & Key Findings (Donohue’s Jeremy Cramer served as moderator for the Biogas Panel Discussion)
- Biological Nutrient Removal Study: Summary & Key Findings (Donohue’s Dr. Sara Arabi served as a panelist for the BNR Panel Discussion)
- Water Tech Innovation Discussion
In addition to promoting the benefits of DNA analysis, the summit shows that as more facilities become involved in the studies, the more that will be learned about the ecology in wastewater. Organisms that were once not considered or known to help certain processes in the wastewater world, are starting to be shown to play a role and these studies are bringing that to light. Microbial analysis using DNA analysis sheds light on dependencies between the microbial ecology of biomass and the overall efficiency and functional stability of wastewater treatment systems. This is just the beginning of the studies with more to come. As more facilities get involved in these studies, more information and knowledge that will be attained about the ecology in the anaerobic digestion process and biological nutrient removal processes. This knowledge can then be used as another tool that a wastewater operator can use to better operate their facility.