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Water Treatment Patent

Microbial mediated water treatment

Water treatment abstract

Generation of Fe.sup.+2 for water treatment and treatment process using same.

Water treatment claims

What is claimed is as follows:

1. An anaerobic chamber for generating soluble Fe.sup.+2 containing a flow-through media comprised of a quantity of Fe.sup.+3 source material, and a quantity of a microbe having the identifying characteristics of ATCC 55339 for converting Fe.sup.+3 to Fe.sup.+2.

2. The arrangement of claim 1 including and a quantity of nutrient in aqueous solution associated therewith.

3. The chamber of claim 1 constructed and arranged as a flow-through chamber.

4. A prepackaged media for an anaerobic water treatment chamber comprising a mixture of magnetite, amino acids, micronutrients and a quantity of a microbe having the identifying characteristics of ATCC 55339 for converting Fe.sup.+3 to Fe.sup.+2.

5. The media of claim 4 including a carbon source for the microbes.

6. The media of claim 5 in which the carbon source comprises a carbohydrate.

7. The media of claim 6 including a binder.

8. The arrangement of claim 1 wherein the chamber is an actual pond or a lake.

Water treatment description


According to the present invention, large quantities of soluble iron (Fe.sup.+2) are rapidly formed by a microbial mediated technique in an aqueous macro or micro anaerobic environment. The Fe.sup.+2 may be subsequently used for water treatment, specifically to suppress heavy metals, sulfur and sulfide in aerobic water and to bind and precipitate excess environmentally damaging phosphorus in oxygenated aqueous environments such as industrial waste water, lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, waste water treatment ponds, sewage, food processing ponds, fish farms and the unsaturated soils adjacent to septic trenches, as the Fe.sup.+2 changes state to Fe.sup.+3.


The sole FIGURE shows in schematic an anaerobic chamber for generating Fe.sup.+2 according to this invention.


This invention is based on and utilizes subject matter described in the aforementioned previously filed patent application. According to one preferred form of the present invention, a flow-through chamber, such as 10 in the FIGURE, which contains a quantity of Fe.sup.+3 source material (iron oxide in the form of iron ore concentrate, dust or iron ore pellets, Fe.sub.2 O.sub.3 or Fe.sub.3 O.sub.4, taconite and/or magnetite, the latter being most preferred) and a consortium of microbes which utilize Fe.sup.+3 as a terminal electron acceptor to degrade waste water hydrocarbons as they respire and replicate, is used to provide Fe.sup.+2 for treatment of municipal waste water sewage. Chamber 10 is constructed and arranged to maintain anaerobic conditions within itself i.e., it should be sealed except for its inlet and outlet. Chamber 10 may also be constructed other than as shown, i.e., it may be arranged for flow through percolation, up-flow or lateral flow, and so forth.

The FIGURE shows chamber 10 designed for up-flow, including an inlet indicated by arrow, a lower manifold area 12, a support grating, screen or the like 14, for the media comprised of Fe.sup.+3 source material such as taconite and/or magnetite and the microbe consortium, an upper collection chamber area 16 leading to the outlet and an outlet indicated by another arrow.

Such chambers will vary in size depending on the treatment desired. For example, in the case of a municipal waste water treatment plant, chambers of concrete many feet high--15 feet or greater containing 6000 cubic feet of iron oxide substrate and capable of passing 1% of the cities raw sewage therethrough i.e., thousands of gallons per minute of waste water, may be used to generate the desired soluble Fe.sup.+2 from the Fe.sup.+3 source material for subsequently treating the balance of the municipal sewage. Multiple sets of chambers may be used. For example, in tentative planning for proposal is a typical small city system which will make use of three 20.times.20.times.15 feet concrete bunkers as chambers, each containing about 1100 tons of taconite pellets. Since the 5% to 6% reduction in the matrix volume per year will have little effect on the operating ability of the system, it should only need to be opened about every 10 years for matrix replacement. Each chamber contains 6000 cubic feet of iron oxide matrix but since the matrix is composed of spherical components, i.e., iron ore pellets, it only occupies slightly more than two thirds of the total volume. This leaves about 2000 cubic feet or about 15000 gallons of open channels through the iron oxide matrix. For a 24 hour retention the flow becomes approximately 10 gallons per minute (gpm) through the system for each chamber. The total flow through all three chambers is 30 gpm. This is about 1% of the maximum daily flow from the city which is about 3000 gpm or 4,320,000 gallons per day.

The anaerobic chamber is inoculated with the appropriate microbe as discussed above e.g., ATCC 55339, the amount will vary depending on chamber size and the start up time desired. For example, a chamber of the size above might be inoculated with about 100% of the working volume in the first chamber. The amount of inoculus initially provided is not critical since it is a living entity. The inoculum will come to full operating strength in three to four days of internal recirculation, given nutrient. After the first chamber is at operating level, waste water becomes the influent and the effluent of the first chamber at, approximately twenty percent of the total flow, becomes the influent to the other two chambers which will then be recirculated until they reach full operating strength. At this point the system is placed in parallel operation to treat any required percentage of entire influent to the waste pond.

This system could also be used to operate the anaerobic cells of aerobic/anaerobic series treatment where it would have the added advantage of reducing the available effluent phosphorus and sulfur by effluent precipitation.

Once the iron material and microbe are present in the chamber, only nutrient need be added to initiate the generation of soluble Fe.sup.+2. Nutrient may be supplied by the waste water and sewage, which mainly includes a suitable carbon source such as carbohydrates including sugars, amino acids and micronutrients (minor amounts of heavy metals which are typically present in enzymatic quantities, parts per billion or parts per trillion, such as Mo, Co and sometimes Va). They tend to be used up in the waste stream flow but can be readily identified as to where they are best available in the system flow to be most readily collected and circulated to a treatment chamber.

Sewage and the like is passed into chamber 10 via inlet 12. With adjustment of flow rate to allow for reduction of Fe.sup.+3 .fwdarw.Fe.sup.+2, the aqueous output containing Fe.sup.+2 at outlet 14 of chamber 10 may then be used to treat the main body of the sewage to effectively suppress the solubilization of heavy metals, bind sulfur as sulfide, and when introduced to oxygenated waters oxidizes to Fe.sup.+3 (such as an open system) bind and precipitate phosphorus.

A chamber as described above could be activated and placed in or near a body of water to be treated. Solar or mechanical pumping could be used to move water through the system for dispersion to the water body. In its broadest sense, a pond or the like could be used as a chamber equivalent.

When the waste water to be treated does not contain the necessary nutrients, they can be added to the media of Fe.sup.+3 source material and microbes in the chamber. For example, to treat industrial waste water such as the effluent of a plating operation containing gold, silver, nickel, copper or hydrogen sulfide (such as is found in waste water from an egg breaking facility preparing prepackaged eggs), a prepackaged media including a mixture of magnetite, microbes, amino acids (such as casine digest amino acids from cow stomachs, available in stockyards) and micronutrients and a suitable source of carbon (carbohydrates such as sugar) if needed may be placed in the chamber. The carbon source may act as a binder for the mixture. Molasses is a desirable binder and carbon source. The relative amounts may vary widely and will be determined by the amount of Fe.sup.+2 desired to be generated. The dominant component in amount will be the iron source. Actual relative amounts in any specific instance can be determined by monitoring the amounts of Fe.sup.+2 produced and altering as described.


Sediment samples were collected with an Ekman Grab Sampler from hypolimnetic region of Lake Martha near Rockford, Minn. as part of a winter examination of experimental treatment plots on the lake. It was not expected that any significant amount of the desired microbe would be present.

The next day, six each 250 cc samples of sediment from Lake Martha were inoculated with 1 cc of thawed ATCC 55339 and duplicates of 250 cc of water from the Boyceville, Wis. secondary treatment pond, and 250 cc of water from Turtle Lake, Wis. The samples were mixed and placed in 500 cc glass incubation bottles, capped with septums and allowed to incubate in a New Brunswick Scientific oscillating shaker bath for a month.

The samples were then sampled with a syringe and assayed for Fe.sup.+2 with a Perkin Elmer AA spectrophotometer. The iron concentrations ranged from 5.9 to 6.3 mg/l which is a typical activation level for inoculated lake sediments.

Subsamples (already containing microbes) of 5 ml each were reinoculated into 50 ml of Lake Martha sediment and 50 ml of lake water to make 105 ml sample; to this, 10 milligrams per liter of casine digest was added. Casine digest contains amino acids which have been hydrolyzed from protein. Carbohydrates and some amino acids are naturally available in the sediment. At the first sampling the pH of the four containers had been rebuffered by the microbial metabolites and by-products to between pH 5.92 to 6.17. The samples remained in this pH range throughout the remaining test set. Samples were extracted with syringes and analyzed for soluble Fe.sup.+2 with a surprising result. The Fe.sup.+2 had increased from 6.3 mg/l to 46.6, 87.8, 145.9 and 45.1 mg/l respectively. The 145.9 was an increase of 23.times.. The second set which was analyzed after 41 hours was 346, 385, 404, and 331 mg/l respectively and the pH of the solutions as sampled raged from 5.92 to 6.17. The second increase was 7.4.times., 4.4.times., 2.8.times. and 7.3.times.. Clearly the organisms had run out of nutrients before the second sample set and had increased the iron in the solution by 64.times..

Thus, it can be seen that large amounts of Fe.sup.+2 are readily generated in this manner.


The sample containing the 404 mg/l iron concentration was used to titrate a set of 11 waste water samples from the Boyceville, Wis. set. Although the iron is Fe.sup.+2 as titrated, it is quickly oxidized to Fe.sup.+3 in the oxygenated water. The iron is ionically bound to the phosphorus and the combined salt precipitates. The resulting data is shown in the Table below.

______________________________________ Phosphorus vs. titrated iron as Fe.sup.+2 Phosphorus Activated Concentrate ml Iron mg/l as Fe.sup.+2 as T[P] mg/l ______________________________________ 0 0 5.02 1 0.404 4.71 2 0.808 4.82 3 1.12 4.81 4 1.62 4.63 5 2.02 4.29 6 2.42 3.74 7 2.83 3.27 8 3.23 2.56 9 3.64 2.11 10 4.04 1.73 ______________________________________

As already indicated, this invention quickly and continuously, if desired, generates high concentrations of Fe.sup.+2 which may then be used in turn to suppress the solubilization of heavy metals, bind sulfur as sulfide and, when introduced to oxygenated waters, bind and precipitate phosphorus. It has the added advantage of generating small readily oxidized organic acid anions such as acetates, which are degradation by-products or metabolites. These acetates then buffer the media and support the ferrous iron in high concentrations in solution. Because these anions are readily degradable by aerobic microbes there is no need to support the iron ions with environmentally deleterious anions such as chloride or sulfate. The chlorides and sulfates are used in much higher concentrations and have detremented effects of re-releasing the phosphorus they bind.

This invention allows one to generate high concentrations of soluble iron on short notice and retain it under anaerobic conditions and in solution until needed. It is conceivable that the ions could be generated at one site, transferred to another site for subsequent treatment of water for phosphorus or sulfur reduction. All of this is possible without the use of algicides and herbicides.

The above Examples and disclosure are intended to be illustrative and not exhaustive. These examples and description will suggest many variations and alternatives to one of ordinary skill in this art. All these alternatives and variations are intended to be included within the scope of the attached claims. Those familiar with the art may recognize other equivalents to the specific embodiments described herein which equivalents are also intended to be encompassed by the claims attached hereto.

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