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Role Of Microorganisms In Sewage Treatment Plants
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Sewage is a mixture of wastewater that comes from homes, toilets, baths, and rainwater. Sewage treatment plants are meant to remove large contaminants that are present in this wastewater after which the contaminants are sent to a landfill. The remaining material is allowed to ‘settle’ to the bottom of the tank. This solid material is removed and then buried in a landfill or even used as a fertiliser once it has undergone further treatment.
Sewage processing helps to reduce the concentration of potentially harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella in the original sewage. Most of these bacteria die during sewage treatment as the conditions in the plant are not appropriate for their survival. It is crucial to eliminate the presence of organic compounds in the effluents that are released into water bodies like rivers from the sewage plant. If these microbes are not reduced at the right time they use the organic matter in the river to reproduce in large numbers. They also take up most of the oxygen dissolved in water leaving very little for the aquatic life including fish.
To protect life in water bodies, sewage effluent needs to be treated by bringing down to the required biological oxygen demand.
Treating sewage and wastewater is possible because of microorganisms. They help treat and purify wastewater to make it less harmful to the environment.
There are various kinds of microbes used in sewage treatment, but three types are primarily known to be most effective. Every type of these bacteria help the treatment process in a unique way to ensure there is little to no impact on the surrounding environment.
Following are a list of the types of bacteria that are used in sewage treatment :
This type of bacteria is mostly used in new treatment plants in what is known as an aerated environment. This bacterium uses the free oxygen present in water to treat the pollutants in the wastewater and then converts it into energy which it uses to grow and reproduce. Oxygen needs to be added mechanically to the plant for this bacteria to do its job well.
Anaerobic bacteria are used in sewage treatment on a normal basis. This bacteria is primarily used to reduce the volume of sludge to produce methane from it.
This type of bacteria is used popularly mostly because of the methane it helps to produce. The methane produced if cleaned and handled properly can be used as an alternative source of energy. Anaerobic bacteria gets sufficient oxygen from its food and doesn’t require extra oxygen to be added to the plant to perform its functions. Anaerobic microbes also help in the elimination of phosphorus from wastewater.
Facultative microorganisms are the most fascinating of all bacteria used in sewage treatment. They can change between aerobic and anaerobic depending on the environment they are in.
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