By Dr. Clarence L. Baugh, PhD
This discussion is designed to give a brief background and review of both microbiology and odor perception and to present the scientific principles involved in F-TREAT as they apply to odor control. Custom Biologicals, Inc. strongly believes that chemical and mechanical methods of odor control are both dangerous and expensive. Bioremediation of odors as practiced by Custom Biologicals, Inc. is rapidly replacing most of these methods.
Custom Biologicals’ F-TREAT product is a live synergistic blend of selected microorganisms specifically chosen for their ability to rapidly metabolize organic material into carbon dioxide and water. F-TREAT actually digests and eliminates the odor at its source rather than merely masking or attempting to chemically neutralize the odor. F-TREAT’s is mainly used at industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities.
F-TREAT controls odor in different ways depending upon the origin of the odor. If the odor is produced by indigenous bacterial decomposition of organic material such as sewage, the bad odors are produced because bacteria incompletely oxidize and degrade organic compounds, such as proteins, carbohydrates, and starches instead of completely oxidizing them to carbon dioxide and water.
In this instance, F-TREAT works on a competitive principle called competitive inhibition. By applying F-TREAT, selected microorganisms are added at approximately one million times the concentration of the indigenous bacteria. The microorganisms in F-TREAT utilize essentially all of the available organic material and oxidize it to carbon dioxide and water. The indigenous bacteria are so outnumbered that they cannot successfully compete for available organic material. This greatly restricts their growth and also greatly diminishes the emission of organic compounds that produce the characteristic odor. The small amount of incompletely oxidized organic material that they may still produce is quickly utilized by the microorganisms in F-TREAT further reducing the odor.
Examples of this type of activity would be wastewater or sewage treatment plants, lift stations, oxidation ponds, trash cans, dumpsters, pet areas, kitchen areas, carpets, nursing homes, locker rooms, sewage treatment systems, and restrooms.
If the odor is caused simply by, the presence of an organic compound the microorganisms in F-TREAT will rapidly degrade the organic chemicals destroying the odor. Examples of this type would be non-hydrocarbon chemical spills, industrial wastewater, agricultural waste, fish and other food preparation.
Another major odor problem is the production of hydrogen sulfide from sulfur containing amino acids. All of the microorganisms in F-TREAT degrade sulfur containing amino acids without producing hydrogen sulfide, and, in fact, utilize some hydrogen sulfide in growth.
All of the bacterial species utilized in F-TREAT are Class 1 bacteria, as defined by the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC). Class 1 bacteria are, by definition, non-pathogenic and non-opportunistic. These organisms are safe and will not cause infections or ill effects in humans, animals or plants. The United Sates Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved this blend of organisms for use in USDA federally inspected facilities, including food production plants. Each organism has been approved by the microbiologists at the USDA laboratory and every production batch is certified to be Salmonella-free.
NATURE OF BACTERIA
Bacteria are considered prokaryotic organisms as their genetic material is not enclosed in a special nuclear membrane and they normally reproduce by the process of binary fission, one cell asexually splitting into two. Bacterial cells may be spherical or spiral but the majority are rod shaped (cylindrical) and are about one micron wide and 2 microns long. One micron equals 0.001 millimeter. For classification and identification purposes, bacteria can be divided into two large groups, Gram positive or Gram negative, depending on their reaction to a specialized staining procedure.
Microbial Growth Requirements
Bacteria as living organisms have certain chemical and physical growth requirements. The basic knowledge of these requirements is especially important in considering bioremediation and odor control.
C6H12O6 + 6O2 = 6CO2 + 6H20 + energy
The organic material is completely oxidized and converted from a solid to a gas (CO2). If the organic material is incompletely oxidized, as with facilitative anaerobic and anaerobic bacteria, the organic compound that acts as the hydrogen acceptor usually has a bad odor.
Bacterial Growth Process
Bacteria are prokaryotic organisms that reproduce primarily asexually by a process known as binary fission. One organism splits into two organisms and each one is capable of reproducing further. The principle of bioremediation is based on the tremendous growth potential of bacteria with the binary fission process. For illustration purposes, lets consider the growth potential of one single bacterial cell, assuming a 20 minute generation time, for a few hours.
|1 – 2 – 4 –||8 – 16 – 32 –||64 – 128 – 256 –||512 – 1024 – 2048 –||4096 – 8192 – 16384 –||32,768 – 65,536 – 131,472 –||262,944 – 525,888 – 1,051,776|
In little more than 6 hours the population has increased over 1 million fold. This tremendous growth rate is the secret to successful remediation. In the case of odor control bioremediation, the odor causing compound is used both as a carbon source and an energy source to produce the million fold increase in cell mass.
Odor Detection in Humans
The major sense of odor detection is controlled by the olfactory nerves and is responsible for odor perception and recognition. Its performance is a function of molecular structure, configuration of odor reception sites, and signal generation at these sites as a result of a reaction between odorant and an enzyme, and relative concentrations of the reactants. A change in any one of these factors can change the perception of the odor.
The process that humans use to perceive odors follows these steps:
An odor can be perceived only if all of several criteria are available: there must be an available odor site, there must be sufficient enzyme to react with the odorant, there must be no interference with the pattern of signal generated by the reaction, and the concentration of the odorant must be high enough to create signal strong enough to be perceived.
Chemical and Mechanical Methods of Odor Control