How Does the Organica FCR Work?
- Why do you need the plants?
The use of natural (plant) and engineered (patented biofiber media) root structures as biofilm carriers enables the development and maintenance of 3 to 4 times the quantity of biomass per unit reactor volume when compared to other activated sludge-based solutions. The result is that Organica FCR removes the same quantity of contaminants/nutrients in half (or less) reactor volume, resulting in construction and equipment cost savings.
Further, plants naturally excrete organic acids, enzymes, and other compounds that allow the roots and biomass to operate in a symbiotic relationship, providing a natural habitat for a distinctive self-regulating ecosystems which include higher level organisms. Plants are the “ideal” media and are utilized as much as feasible in FCR designs. The resulting “food chain,” results in up to 35% less excess sludge compared to other activated sludge-based solutions, while also providing more complex organisms capable of breaking down complex contaminants in the wastewater (such as pharmaceutical and other difficult to remove compounds).
- Is the Organica FCR a “wetland”? Thus requiring extensive land area?
No – the Organica FCR is NOT a wetland. Wetlands are large earthen basins with plastic liners, filled with gravel or sand, and planted with reeds or similar plant species. They rely on an “unmanaged” process and have minimal technological components, with no ability to proactively change operational settings, and require large land areas.
In contrast, Organica FCR is a reactor-based solution. It uses natural processes, but in a highly-engineered environment, while requiring a much smaller surface area. The FCR is a complete treatment process, including solids removal, biological treatment, phase separation and tertiary treatment where required.
- Do the plants remove nutrients such as phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N)?
The plants themselves do not treat the water: their primary function is to provide a habitat within their root zone for the microorganisms (biofilm) that treat the water. While the plants absorb some nutrients, it is negligible from a process sizing perspective.
- Does the facility function differently during the winter?
At lower temperatures, biological reactions are slower therefore the biological treatment process is designed to ensure seamless operation in colder temperatures. This impact is similar to any other biological treatment process in the industry.
- How sensitive is the process to hazardous chemicals and heavy metals?
The high biodiversity of the Organica treatment system makes it very resilient to shock loading. Organica facilities have shown higher resistance to sudden changes in influent than traditional alternatives. Cases in which it is known that there are industrial sources of wastewater with higher loads of contaminants often are designed with physical or chemical pre-treatment steps prior to the biological one.
In case of unsuspected poisoning event thanks to the high diversity to system re-establish faster than conventional counterparts would.
- What happens if the plants die as a result of a disaster?
Organica provides plant maintenance training and manuals to the operator of the facility. If the instructions are followed, a “disaster” is highly unlikely. If this should happen, despite all careful plant care, re-commissioning the system would take approximately 30% less time than the initial commissioning.
- How do Organica systems deal with ‘starvation periods’ or power outages?
The use of roots as a fixed-film carrier in a reactor-based environment is unique to Organica, and enables the formation of a complex ecology which results in highly efficient treatment characteristics. The highly evolved ecosystem (larger quantity as well as diversity of micro-organisms) in the reactors provides a high degree of operational stability. This allows smooth and uninterrupted operation of the facility even when fluctuations in the quality OR quantity of influent occur. Under low-loading conditions, the facility can run with 20% of its design capacity.
In the case of a power outage at the site, the reasons described above allow survival of micro-organisms in the reactors for an extended duration. Additionally, plants provide some oxygen and excrete small amounts of organic acids on their root surfaces which act as a food and oxygen source for the bio-film. Therefore, the plants help bacteria to survive the starvation periods in a power outage situation when the blowers are not functioning. For these reasons, in case of such an extreme event as a power outage, the biofilm can survive up to a week, even in an entirely shut-down facility.
- What happens to excess sludge (WAS)?
Excess sludge (WAS) is treated in exactly the same manner as would be managed in a conventional process. First, the sludge is dewatered, and then it is usually shipped to a composting facility.
To differentiate, the presence of plants and the cascading reactor design provides a habitat for a distinctive self-regulating ecosystem which include “higher level” organisms. This results in the creation of a natural “food chain”, resulting in up to 35% less excess sludge compared to other activated sludge-based solutions.
If the facility is large enough – usually more than 200,000 PE – an anaerobic digester may be installed, generating biogas (methane) from the sludge. The energy produced from this can supply energy used to run the facility. If biogas production is a need, Organica can design the process accordingly and optimize the energy production potential of the sludge to be digested.
- What happens to the snails and other higher-level organisms in the system?
When the higher-level organisms die, the resulting dead matter decomposes and is consumed by the microorganisms present in the system. This is the source of the “food chain” name.
- What is the benefit of having snails, worms, and other higher-level organisms in the treatment plant?
Higher organisms have longer life cycles, allowing time for them to establish on the biofilm and develop of a complex ecosystem. These higher-level organisms consume matter, including some of the lower-level bacterium and also grow at much slower rates. The overall effects are less sludge produced. Additionally, the more complex ecosystem creates a more stable treatment process.
- What is the hydraulic retention time in the system?
The hydraulic retention time is dependent on several parameters, including feed concentrations, discharge requirements, and water temperature. Typical process designs usually call for around 3-4 hours for a simple BOD removal plant. However, for plants requiring nutrient removal the retention time will be higher and above all the retention time is a factor of temperature, but obviously this varies for each design.
- Is disinfection part of the treatment process?
In general, disinfection is part of the process of treating water to reuse quality, but this depends on local requirements.
- Is the FCR solution suitable for treating industrial wastewater?
Organica’s FCR solution offers a wastewater treatment solution for any industry that generates a biodegradable waste stream, such as milk, cheese, meat, pulp and paper, breweries and slaughterhouses (but not limited to these sources), in a smaller footprint than traditional treatment solutions. Organica’s FCR solution can be located close to the manufacturing facility, providing water for reuse in industrial processes and resulting in both infrastructure and operating cost savings.